Calera sweeps vehicle design competition

Published 11:08 am Thursday, April 23, 2009

Engineering students from Calera High School overtook their collegiate rivals at the 2009 Institute for Affordable Transportation National Basic Utility Vehicle Competition in Indianapolis, Ind. last week.

Calera was one of only two high schools to compete against John Brown University, University of Missouri-Columbia and Purdue University, said instructor Brian Copes.

“Our students not only placed first in their class, but they also outscored every team at the competition coming in first place overall,” Copes said. “Additionally, the students also won the award for most innovative design. They won all three levels of the competition.”

Copes’ students began designing and building their basic utility vehicle last fall as part of their course requirements. They also produced an assembly manual accompanied by a step-by-step video.

Copes said the assembly kits will eventually be shipped to developing countries in need of affordable and simple transportation.

Basic utility vehicles can be assembled anywhere by anyone, according to IAT. They run on environmentally friendly biodiesel fuel, and are designed for warm climates, slow speeds up to 20 miles per hour and rural, unpaved roads.

This is the third year a Shelby County school has competed in Indianapolis. Chelsea Middle School took home first and second place awards in 2007 and 2008, when Copes was a teacher there.

Calera students who competed this year are: TJ Killingsworth, Ethan McKenzie, Kyle Brasher, Jared Loller, Eric Burrells, Delvin Davis, Cikai Shanks, Kalyn Grant and Chris McKinney.