Students in Alabama Make Electric Vehicles and Space Parts

Matt Gatlin teaches Precision Machining at Career Academies of Decatur in Decatur, Alabama. He recently wrote to us to let us know how his class of 43 students used Mastercam to learn everything from simple modeling and basic toolpaths to their participation in both NASA HUNCH and GreenpowerUSA racing. What follows is their story.

Mastercam is the most powerful software I have used. We design and toolpath all of our parts using it. It is easy to learn the basics for my students. In my industrial experience it is very dependable and allows unattended machining with no gouges or surface violations. 

The parts we design in HUNCH usually come from NASA as a 2D paper drawing. We are able to use surfaces and solids to create a machinable model.

You can look up GreenpowerUSA to find out more about the organization. They run engineering challenges for schools based around designing and building a single-seat, electric powered car. F24 electric cars start as a kit. The students in our engineering program analyze and design components to improve the performance of the vehicle.

Student Machining

Most of the parts for Greenpower start with a verbal concept and sketch that we model in Mastercam and machine on the CNC. The students also use the software to design and machine personal projects using their own ideas. In my opinion this allows the student to be creative with a concept and see it through to be produced.

The events are set up for the students to do video presentation to explain their car improvements. The races consist of timed heats that are scored by the speed and distance the car can achieve in a 90-minute session. It is setup for different classes. There are elementary cars, kit cars, modified kit, and we are planning to build a full custom car. We are participating with cars in junior high and high school divisions.

Our high school team competes in modified kit car. Some of the pics I sent are front suspension components for the custom car. The Greenpower team allows for the multiple programs on campus (Auto Mechanics, Engineering, and Precision Machining) to work together on a project to compete in these events. The kids enjoy it.

Thank you for sharing details of the excellent programs for technical education available in your schools. We are thrilled that Mastercam is part of the dynamic student experience in Decatur.

As part of our commitment to the future of manufacturing and engineering, Mastercam supports many educational initiatives to encourage student interest in technical disciplines. Student competitions like NASA HUNCH are among these programs giving students the chance to apply their knowledge and gain practical skills. HUNCH is a STEM outreach effort to give students new educational experiences with NASA projects.

Please visit our website to learn more about free Mastercam software and support for NASA HUNCH participants.

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