May 18, 2013
Their high school careers may be over, but a trio of Smith-Cotton Class of 2013 members will continue to work this summer on a project guaranteed to take them places.
Josh Mefford, Keegan Kendrick and Cameron Harris built a fully functioning electric motorcycle in teacher Michael Wright’s Engineering Development and Design class, the senior capstone course for Project Lead The Way, which encourages students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The students had to pick a problem for a course project, and Mefford said they wanted to tackle something that would give them actual engineering experience, so they chose to build an electric motorcycle — with a little nudging from Wright.
“I bought the motorcycle last summer with the intention of someone working on it,” Wright said. “I knew that these guys loved motorcycles and that it would be a good project for them. When I told them last summer that I bought it, they jumped all over the idea.”
What Wright bought was bare bones — a “rolling frame” that had no engine, power source or controls. The students spent much of the first semester raising funds and seeking donations of parts for the project. Mefford said they “worked on it off and on” between robotics team projects and sports they participate in through the school year, but their progress lagged for a while — so much so that Wright told the students he was going to pull them off the project and have them work on something else.
“They got mad,” Wright said. “That motivated them. They busted their tails the past couple of months to get it done.”
Enersys provided the batteries, valued at about $1,000, for the motorcycle. Other sponsors include W-K Chevrolet, Waterloo Industries, Ditzfeld Transfer, Guardsman Security, General Cable and RE/MAX. Pettis County Sheriff’s Deputy John Cline, the school resource officer, provided some technical assistance, and the students also contributed some of their own money to get the bike on the road.
The motorcycle is operable, and Kendrick took it for a spin through the S-C parking lot on Thursday. It has a top speed of 40 mph, and is designed to get more than 25 miles per charge. But Kendrick said the goal “is to have it 100 percent street legal by summer,” so the students plan to add a body along with addressing some technical needs.
“We’re going to clean it up, make it look all pretty,” Harris said.
The motorcycle already has about 25 miles on it, which Kendrick said was achieved through a lot of “trial and error.” Mefford joked that “Keegan about died a few times” on test runs.
The students’ plan is to complete the motorcycle then put it on display at Yeager’s Cycle sometime over the summer. They would like to come back and bring it out for an assembly during the next school year, then put it on display at the school before auctioning it off or holding a raffle for it, with proceeds going to S-C’s engineering program.
Wright remains impressed with the trio’s work.
“I still can’t believe they got it done,” he said.