The K-1 Attack is not your father's hybrid car. Burning fuel made from
soybeans, boasting gas mileage to die for (55 miles per gallon), and
displaying a sporty carbon-fiber body, this vehicle has taken top honors two
years in a row in the student division at the Tour de Sol, a competition for
environmentally sound cars.
The contest is packed with well-funded university teams that produce
ultramodified versions of Honda Insights or Toyota Priuses, but the Attack
came from an unlikely source: A team of underfunded students (and their
teacher) from an urban high school crafted the car from the ground up.
The award-winning electric-vehicle team from West Philadelphia High School
is part of the school's Academy of Applied Automotive and Mechanical Science
and is one of the Philadelphia Academies, a nonprofit network of career
academies operating within the public school system. Schools within schools,
the academies focus on partnerships with the business community and the
school district, pairing course content with real-world applications. By the
beginning of eighth grade, students in the system may apply for a place at
any of the twenty-four academies, which focus on career options ranging from
environmental technology to communications to hospitality.
Students at the automotive academy spend a year trying to build a running
car, but they also work on public relations, creating displays and
practicing presentations of their work. A small group also travels to the
automotive extravaganza, where they regularly make a big impression. In
addition to learning skills, the urban teenagers expand their view of the
future, discovering, often for the first time, how exciting their job
options may be.
West Philadelphia High School Wins “Honda: Power of Dreams Award”
PHILADELPHIA, PA- Well, they’ve done it again. The West Philadelphia High School
Electric Vehicle Team is once again paving the technological highway in this
years NESEA 2002 Tour de Sol, the country’s largest electric vehicle race. Last
year, the West Philly High team “Brought soul to the Tour de Sol”, this year
they’re bringing it back, multiplied by two! After technical problems forced the
team to compete without their electric Saturn, the students were not dismayed
and successfully completed the six day road rally with their 1995
hybrid-electric Jeep Wrangler. Much to their surprise Honda presented the team
with the coveted “Honda: Power of Dreams Award” presented in recognition of the
teams outstanding technical work, engineering pursuits and determination. In
light of all that was accomplished during the 2001 Tour de Sol we can safely
assume that once again the team from West Philly High will leave their mark on
this years race and possibly everyone in their dust.
Nicknamed “Deuce”, Soljourner I, a 1993 electric Saturn is definitely no second
place vehicle. Weighing in at 3500 pounds Deuce is powered by a 336 volt lead
acid battery pack, which places the electric Saturn in a class of it’s own. The
team continues to us a 36 horsepower Brushless DC Motor donated by MTS which is
the backbone of their entire operation.
Weighing in at almost 4000 pounds, the team’s diesel-electric Jeep Wrangler,
Soljourner II has undergone yet another make over, this time, it’s convertible.
Powered by a student built generator using a 20 horsepower Yanmar diesel engine
and a 36 horsepower MTS DC Brushless Motor combined with a 408 volt lead acid
battery pack, the team now has a winning combination. For this years race, West
Philly High students also designed and built a honeycomb composite shell to
replace the former 4x4’s heavy, squared body.
The 2002 Tour de Sol kicks off this Sunday, May 12th in Baltimore, MD and ends
Saturday the 18th of May in New York City with a stop in Philadelphia on
Thursday May 16th at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. With just a few short days
until the race commences, student Sergio Diggs remarks, “We’re determined to
succeed and we know how to get the job done, with that in mind success is a
given.” It’s easy to see that these students have what it takes now all that’s
left is first place.