BYU Racing Club works on electrical car for competition

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Students in the BYU Racing Club work together to build an electric car. Upwards of 50-70 people are involved in this process. (Jonas Wright)

In the BYU Racing Club, one electric car can be worked on by more than 50-70 people at once, according to team member Andrew Hafener.

Hafener, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering, is part of the high voltage team. His job is to build a light purely for safety. When the car battery is too hot, his light will flash red to indicate the car should not be touched. Although small, Hafener’s job is significant.

“If someone doesn’t know the battery is on … there’s high voltage moving from one part of the car to another and if they accidentally, like, grabbed it with both hands … it would go through their body,” he said. Such an accident could be fatal.

BYU Racing Club students hold safety meeting. The safety meeting is held before working on the car. (Jonas Wright)

The club has students from different disciplines who play various roles. Kelston McGuire, business team lead and mechanical engineering major, said he had done robots, but racing was the next step for him.

BYU racing has been around for about two years, McGuire said. Dedicated entirely to building an electrical car, McGuire’s team has plans to compete in Michigan and they are raising funds to potentially go to an international competition in Germany.

Racing helmet sits in BYU Racing Club work area. Here, students design the electric car. (Jonas Wright)

He said it is really a “design” competition, based on questions such as: “Why did you use this design? Why is it this heavy? How do you know it’s strong enough? Did you break it? Do you know if you take any more material off? Will it break?” among others.

McGuire works on the business side of things, raising funds to justify every part of the car, seeking funding from the Mechanical Engineering Department and looking for crowd funding.

He said for him, the team aspect makes the project unique.

“We have you know, as disciples of Christ, this unique opportunity to work with other people, especially within BYU, in a way that should be higher and holier,” he said.

As an electrical engineering student, Hafener said there is so much he has learned even before his classes taught it.

“I was super excited just to take the theoretical application for my classes and implement it … just being able to build something real with it and something that can be used to help people,” he said.

Students work together in the BYU Racing Club. The building of the electric car is divided into different responsibilities. (Jonas Wright)

Rodrigo Cahuana was a visitor to the club but has plans to stay because of what he saw. As a junior in electrical engineering, he said there are a lot of things he has learned in classes but doesn’t know why he learned them. He said BYU racing is a way to apply what he has learned in class.

“I mean, it’s great. I think it opens new opportunities and it’s different than the college, like the books; it’s very different to work with people,” he said.

McGuire also said this club is different than others.

“What’s really cool about this team is we’re pretty much completely student led … here you get to be a team lead or you get to take on a unique aspect of the team that maybe you want to bring or other people want you to bring and bring it to life,” he said.

BYU Racing Club is student-run. They work together with different jobs. (Jonas Wright)
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