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Students in the Penn Electric Racing Team built an electric race car that can exceed 100 miles per hour.

Photo: Courtesy of Sade Oba

While they might not be able use it on their endless trek down to the Engineering quad, a team of 35 Penn students have hand-built an electric race car that can exceed 100 miles per hour.

The car is known as REV1 and is the second vehicle built by the Penn Electric Racing team. Last year, the team competed in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers student races for the first time. The Penn team designed and built their own electric car, REV0, and competed at the race in Lincoln, Neb. 

“Last year was a feeling out year for us, and this year I really believe that a top-three finish is within reach,” said Adam Farabaugh, one of the team leaders and an Engineering senior.

With the knowledge gained from last year’s competition, the Penn team is ramping up manufacturing on REV1 and pushing towards the finish line. One of the major modifications the team is making to REV1 is to make the car lighter. On the back of REV0, there were two huge engines and a very large battery pack weighing the car down. And while last year’s car could reach top speeds of 100 mph, the formula racing competition is not necessarily all about speed. Race cars are graded on endurance, acceleration and change of direction. As a result, the team built just one engine, sacrificing speed in favor of a more dynamic, durable car.

On this team, it is not just about how fast the race car can accelerate from 0 to 60, but also how efficiently it can reduce emissions to zero. Still, the Penn Electric Racing team has a lot more in mind than speed and efficiency.

“In addition to building a competitive race car that is fully functional and better-equipped than REV0, I also want to grow the team, keep everyone involved and share my insights and passion with my teammates,” said team manager and Engineering junior Manfred Reiche. 

“Besides getting to do doughnuts in the Citizen’s Bank stadium parking lot during the race car driving tests, I come back to work here every day because I’m not just building a car," Engineering sophomore Daniel Shanks said. “I am learning each step in the creative design process and then manufacturing my own designs.” 

Shanks, who has some experience working on go-carts back home in Indiana, relishes the opportunity to work with high-end 3D machines and welding equipment, which is a major upgrade from the hand-saws and hammers he is used to. 

And while some team members have a lot of experience, many people who join Penn Electric Racing have never even thought about power train, suspension or even cooling systems, let alone how to actually design and build these car components from scratch.

“I always bring people in the shop and show them what we do here because I want to educate and encourage students about the incredible opportunity to build a car from the ground up," Engineering junior Parth Patel said.

Patel is the only electrical engineer on the team. He hopes the buzz circulating around the team’s latest race car will encourage others to join in the future. 

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