UTRGV to host first Texas electric car competition

Thirty-two teams representing middle school, high school and colleges from across South Texas will compete in the first HESTEC GreenPowerUSA South Texas Electric Car Competition, to be held April 6 and 7, 2018, at the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport.

UTRGV and its award-winning program, Hispanic Engineering, Science, and Technology Week (HESTEC), are the first in Texas to host this competition, which brings the excitement of motorsport to inspire middle and high school students to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) studies. UTRGV is partnering win the GreenPowerUSA Foundation and a variety of sponsors to bring the event to the Rio Grande Valley.

“What an opportunity for our students. They are designing these cars using SIEMENS 3D software, and will then test what they have learned at the competition,” said Velinda Reyes, UTRGV assistant vice president for Community Programs and Operations “Participating in this competition will help prepare our students for the STEM workforce of tomorrow. We invite the public to come out and see first-hand what our students are learning.”

The events will include a Public Showcase, 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 6. The public will have a chance to meet the teams and see the electric cars the students have built to prepare for the competition

Race Day is Saturday, April 7. The day begins at 11:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies, followed by the parade of teams. At 12:30 p.m.,10 middle school teams will compete. Eleven high school teams will compete at 1:50 p.m. The rest of the high school and college teams will race at 3:45 p.m. The awards ceremony will be at 6:15 p.m. Admission is free for both events. The public is encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and picnic lunches to the free event on Saturday.

The Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport, Tipton Auto Group, Brownsville Public Utilities Board, Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, and the City of Brownsville, together with Siemens and the Sports Car Club of America, are helping sponsor this first-ever event.

“The Brownsville South Padre Island Airport is excited to be selected as the venue for the first electric car race in Texas,” said airport Director Bryant Walker. “Playing a role and inspiring local students to excel in science, technology, engineering and math is very rewarding. We are looking forward to encouraging the teams, and we hope the public will attend to help cheer on their favorite team to victory.”

To get ready for the Brownsville event, San Benito High School and Santa Rosa High School sent students to the Toyota-Jaguar Classic Electric Car Competition in Huntsville, Alabama, on March 1.

“We are looking forward to the competition in Brownsville. Our students have been working very hard to have their electric cars ready,” said Alberto Treviño, Santa Rosa High School Afterschool Project director. “Our main reason for getting our students involved is to give them an opportunity to learn and experience STEM through an experiential hands-on approach. These experiences will help them develop self-confidence and awareness of their inner strengths.”

In September 2017, more than 30 teachers from across South Texas took part in training sessions and learned how to build and design the single-seat electric cars.

“We learned how to put these cars together to help our students build the cars,” said Paul Tenison, STEM practicum coordinator at Harlingen High School. “I have an active engineering club with 24 students and I know they all want to be on our GreenPower team.”

Visit www.utrgv.edu/greenpower for more information.

If You Go

WHEN: Friday, April 6 and Sat. April 7, 2018

TIME: 4:30 p.m. & 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

WHERE: Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport