Innovative engineered cars hit Belle Isle raceway

Ursula Watson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Juwan Jamison, 17, of William D. Ford Career-Technical Center in Westland, had his game-face and racing helmet on, as he and his teammate checked and re-checked their electric roadster.

Their team machine was one of many autonomous, hybrid, electric and converted radio-controlled vehicles to hit the Belle Isle Park Raceway during the 8th annual Innovative Vehicle Design (IVD) Performance Challenge Saturday.

Hosted by Square One Education Network and supported by Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, the event encourages students to use science, technology, engineering and math to create a innovative project.

Vehicles designed and built by teams from 55 schools, whizzed around on the same track as the Grand Prix, which takes place May 29-31.

Jamison, who will be attended Kettering University in Flint, said the car is very easy to drive.

"You just hit the gas pedal, break, steer," said Juwan, a recent William D. Ford graduate. "But the electronics in the car are a nightmare."

J.C. Irvine, who teaches game design and programming at William D. Ford, said the team concentrated on innovation.

"We modified a vehicle that came as a kit," said Irvine. "We have a ton of sensors on the car, we have five different kind that are all about making the thing safer so that our driver can be aware of where others are."

Irvine said sensors using lights and sound not only warn Jamison if someone is getting too close but also warns other drivers.

During the competition, teams will be evaluated on performance, engineering and craftsmanship, design innovation, ambassadorship and presentation. Those taking the top spot in those categories will are awarded a trophy.

Parent Linda Edwards took pictures of William D. Ford's car. Her daughter Raelyn Edwards, 17, is on the team.

Edwards, a resident of Willis, said her daughter exhibited an interest in technology at an early age.

"I have an IT background, so I had her take memory out of hard drives at 3," said Edwards.

Raeyln, a recent William D. Ford graduate, will attend Washtenaw Community College, where she will study programming and game design.

Sophomores Khansa Alhaidi, of Fordson High School and Anne Holmes, of Edsel Ford High School watched their team's car zip around the course. Khansa, 16, said the car's designed is based on the WWII planes flown by the Tuskegee Airmen.

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