UConn electric motor sports club constructs race car for competition

 The new University of Connecticut electric motorsports (UCEM) club is constructing an electric race car which will feature a single seat and single motor with an aluminum honeycomb body. (Collin Sitz/The Daily Campus)

The new University of Connecticut electric motorsports (UCEM) club is constructing an electric race car which will feature a single seat and single motor with an aluminum honeycomb body. (Collin Sitz/The Daily Campus)

The new University of Connecticut electric motorsports (UCEM) club is constructing an all-electric race car and will compete with it at the Formula North event in Canada this June.

According to the club’s schematics for the car, it will feature a single seat and single motor with an aluminum honeycomb body.

Evan Gentile, the club’s vice president and an eighth-semester management and engineering-for-manufacturing major, said that at the Formula North event, they will race against other universities in the electric category, such as Penn State and MIT. The competition will test both the car’s performance and the designs and construction techniques implemented to create it, according to the Formula North official site. (https://formulanorth.com/about/the-competition/)

“We’re going to be going against a lot of teams that have been building an electric car for eight years or so,” Gentile said. “We’re going against a lot of these other teams that have a lot more expertise and resources, but it’s all learning experiences right now and we’re having a lot of fun with it.”

Nicholas Jayakar, the club’s president and an eighth-semester mechanical engineering major, said the car’s construction began when a company offered the club high-capacity batteries last April.

“(The offer) kind of got my gears turning in terms of, ‘Hey, I could make an electric team,’” Jayakar said. “Then I started looking into it and I thought it’d be really cool to make (the car) as a senior design project, so I guess one thing led to another.”

Gentile said the work on the car’s construction is a senior design project for 11 students across three different departments.

Adrian Salustri, a second-semester materials science and engineering major in charge of the car’s electronics, said the work is split between small sub-groups that cover various aspect of the vehicle, including systems such as the suspension and steering.

Salustri said that with the work divided among a number of students, he feels the hardest challenge this year has been managing everyone.

“It’s really not about racing,” Salustri said. “It’s really not about the design. It’s more about engineering management, to be honest. It’s all about managing people.”

Gentile said funding for the club’s endeavor was provided by assorted sources, including Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and private companies.

“We are a club, and as a club organization, we do get USG funding, but the majority of our money comes from sponsors,” Gentile said.

Jayakar said the club’s advisor, Sung-Yeul Park, an associate professor at UConn, is a helpful force to achieve carrying out their project.

“(Park is) really doing a lot more than being an advisor for a senior design calls for, so that’s a ton of help,” Jayakar said.

Jayakar said he has enjoyed the club’s journey so far and is optimistic about their future.

“It’s an experience that you will not get anywhere else on campus, I can guarantee it,” Jayakar said. “We’re all doing this for the first time…it’s huge.”


Collin Sitz is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at collin.sitz@uconn.edu.