EcoCAR Students Teach Local Boy Scouts about Energy and Green Vehicle Technology

Mentoring and teaching the youth can be a rewarding experience.  EcoCAR sponsors and organizers often find it inspiring to help university students learn about the process of designing fuel-efficient vehicles and the EcoCAR students find it inspiring to teach elementary students about energy and green vehicle technology. One of those teaching moments happened on Saturday at the Daytona International Speedway race track.

While the EcoCAR students were attending the Winter Workshop and learning about new hardware and software for their vehicles, regional Boy Scouts came to the race track to spend the weekend and participate in various educational activities. EcoCAR organizers and students visited the Scouts on Saturday to show them one of the EcoCAR vehicles.

One of the EcoCAR students was a Boy Scout when he was younger and is still involved in the program as a troop leader. Mike Kearny is a senior mechanical engineering student on Virginia Tech’s EcoCAR team and is also a Hall Director for his dormitory on campus. He credits the Boy Scouts with teaching him two important skills that have helped him in these positions, teamwork and leadership. The skills he learned in Boy Scouts are now being reinforced through the EcoCAR program.

“Learning these skills in the Boy Scouts put me ahead of the curve,” Mike told the Scouts. “When I graduate from college they are going to help me in my career, too.”

Kent Helfrich, the Director of Software Engineering and EcoCAR Challenge Executive Lead at GM, is one of the organizers of EcoCAR, as well as a Boy Scout troup leader. His son is an Eagle Scout. He told the Scouts that studying engineering can lead to doing really cool things when they grow up, like designing cars. He talked about how many things the Scouts could learn from competitions like EcoCAR, and pointed them toward the General Motors educational site,  that teaches K-12 students about energy and cars.

“One of the most important things GM provides young EcoCAR engineers with are mentors who give practical guidance and advice on how to work together as a team, to break big problems into pieces, to assign these pieces to small teams and then to bring the pieces back together,” said Kent. “They also work with and encourage the student leadership to provide good guidance to the university team.  This how we do things in the industry and how we do things in scouting.  We use the same principles in the EcoCAR Challenge and General Motors that we do in Boy Scouts.”

After visiting with the Boy Scouts, the EcoCAR teams gathered for a barbeque dinner, taking advantage of the last chance to socialize with other teams before heading home on Sunday morning.

For more information about the Boy Scouts event, read the Daytona Beach News-Journal article, here!

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