As an introduction to an engineering project that goes beyond a classroom setting, Binghamton University students recently applied their skills to convert a gas-powered go-kart into an electric-powered go-kart. This was part of a Capstone Design Course project sponsored by The Raymond Corporation in collaboration with Binghamton University’s Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science.  The purpose was to help the students apply their technical knowledge to actual engineering problems..

With the guidance of Raymond engineers — Fernando Goncalves, manager of engineering analysis and simulation at Raymond, and Dan Driscall, electrical engineer for product health at Raymond — and Colin Selleck, professor in the mechanical engineering department at Binghamton University, students began the fall 2012 semester learning how the go-kart works as a gas-powered machine. The go-kart’s performance was benchmarked and evaluated by installing sensors and data-acquisition equipment. The students then conducted feasibility studies and developed a design tool to identify a plan to convert the go-kart into an electric-powered vehicle.

In the spring 2013 semester, the students began implementing their plans. They designed and manufactured fixtures for installing the electrical components, while meeting constraints for safety and component packaging. In addition, students also created an electrical schematic of the power system and built the associated wiring harness. The resulting electric-powered go-kart was then tested and found to outperform the gas-powered go-kart on various levels.

“The go-kart project helps students bridge the gap between their academic and professional careers by transferring what they learn in the classroom to hands-on experience,” said Selleck. “We look to corporate partners like Raymond who offer the expertise in electric motors and energy efficiency to be the cornerstone of our senior design team projects. Their engagement in this program helps expose students to realistic design processes, teamwork and expectations of practicing engineers.” 

The go-kart from the course will be on display at the second annual Century of Upstate New York vehicles show, Sunday, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at TechWorks! Prototype Workshop, Center for Technology & Innovation, 321 Water St., Binghamton, N.Y.