General News
Monday, 11 May 2015





The innovative International Intercollegiate evGrandPrix unfolds this week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the result of a joint venture with USAC and Purdue University as the event enters its fifth year.

Featuring electric-powered go-karts, the event annually includes vehicles constructed by colleges around the world competing in an educational contest during the month of May. Tech inspection today (Monday) will be followed by practice, qualifying and heat races on Tuesday. Wednesday’s timetable begins with a preview at 10 am, followed by the driver’s meeting at 11. The green flag for the 50-lap race on a specially constructed track located behind the Tower Suites will drop at 12:15 pm. An awards ceremony follows at 2:15.

The development of the go-karts with intentions to compete at IMS is fueled by individual ingenuity as well as driven by on-track testing and competition.

“USAC is excited about this partnership with Purdue,” says USAC CEO Kevin Miller. “Obviously motorsports takes many forms and karting has produced many of our champions through the years. We are excited about what we can offer in terms of on-site assistance and media coverage for this event.”

Prof. Jim Caruthers, Skidmore Prof. of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University is the academic lead for the evGrandPrix. Caruthers says, “The evGrandPrix has provided the opportunity for college students at Purdue as well as students at other colleges and universities across Indiana, the nation and the world to participate in the technology and excitement of motorsports. However, the most important feature of the evGrandPrix is that it provides an exciting, hands-on engineering design project that complements the material that students learn in their lecture classes.”

The evGrandPrix was initiated as part of a multi-institution grant from the United States Department of Energy led by Purdue University in partnership with University of Notre Dame, University of Indianapolis, Ivy Tech Community College, Purdue University Calumet, and Indiana University Northwest. United States Department of Energy. This grant was awarded to create The Indiana Advanced Electric Vehicle Training and Education Consortium (I-AEVtec). The goal of this consortium is to educate and train the workforce needed to design, manufacture, and maintain advanced electric vehicles and the associated infrastructure. This goal includes creating online courses related to batteries, fuel cells, motors, controls, electric vehicles, and environmental impact. As part of this grant, Purdue created an event called the Electric Vehicle Grand Prix as a vehicle to provide students a hands-on experience to demonstrate their classroom knowledge – an event that is fun and gets their competitive juices flowing. The grant was part of the grants announced by President Obama at a speech in Elkhart, Indiana in August 2009.

The Electric Vehicle Grand Prix is an event that allows students to get real experience with electric vehicles. The first evGrandPrix was held on April 18, 2010 at the Purdue Grand Prix go-kart track. Students joined a team either through a gp-kart build class or a student-organized team. Each team builds a battery-powered electric go-kart and races it in the event. Scoring is based upon a combination of race placement, engineering design, energy efficiency and community outreach. The 2010 race consisted of 80 laps and a battery change. In 2011, a second event took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where teams began competing in the International evGrandPrix. In the 2013 International evGrandPrix, the event was split up into two races that allowed for different levels of competition. 

Currently at Purdue, there are three classes being offered that relate directly to electric vehicles and the planning for a major event like the evGrandPrix – courses that cross multiple disciplines. They include ”Introduction to Motorsports”, “Electric Vehicle Technology” and “Event Planning.”