2015-12-17 / Community

Seattle manufacturing pioneer buys Huron County innovative vehicle

By John Bonke
Staff Writer • 810-452-2668 • jbonke@mihomepaper.com


Last year’s full-scale Huron County innovative vehicle design (IVD) Team named their vehicle “Sky-Clops.” Team members included: (l-r) Reid Pettit, North Huron; Zachary Orban, Bad Axe; James Ney, Bad Axe; and Wade Pettit, North Huron. Missing from this photo is team member Jacob Sutter, Bad Axe. The car has been purchased by a Seattle-based manufacturing pioneer. 
Courtesy photo Last year’s full-scale Huron County innovative vehicle design (IVD) Team named their vehicle “Sky-Clops.” Team members included: (l-r) Reid Pettit, North Huron; Zachary Orban, Bad Axe; James Ney, Bad Axe; and Wade Pettit, North Huron. Missing from this photo is team member Jacob Sutter, Bad Axe. The car has been purchased by a Seattle-based manufacturing pioneer. Courtesy photo HURON COUNTY — For nearly a decade, a team of Huron Area Technical Center students have been competing in an innovative vehicle design (IVD) competition. This year, its vehicle - the “Sky- Clops” - caught the eye of a Seattle-based vehicle pioneer Joe Justice, CEO & Team Lead at WIKISPEED and President of Scrum Inc.

The team, based at the Huron Intermediate School District’s tech center, included: Jimmy Ney, Zachary Orban and Jacob Sutter from Bad Axe, and Reid Pettit and Wade Pettit from North Huron. They were led by Huron Area Technical Center Power Technology Instructor Gary Gliniecki as well as Scott Whipple, HISD teacher consultant in science.

The challenge was to incorporate a quadcopter drone into a light-weight, aluminum chassis vehicle, powered by an electric hub motor, with the drone monitoring environmental conditions around the vehicle such as an emergency or accident situation or scout road conditions and wildlife activity ahead. The design was judged in various categories: one tested how many miles vehicles could go in 20 minutes around a figure-8 course; another tested how far the vehicle could go on a low battery with a maximum time of one hour.

Whipple said that only about 10 vehicles made it through the entire hour, with this being the first time in the past five years that a Huron County vehicle lasted the full hour.

Teams and vehicles were also judged on: a presentation of their project in front of a team of judges; a program or activity they shared with junior high students; how well the vehicle was designed and constructed; and the overall impression of their innovative concept.

Huron County’s involvement with IVD began several years ago through the invitation of Karl Klimek of Square One Education, which provides grant funding to schools and other K-12 learning environments for innovative and meaningful STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs.

Through Klimek’s involvement with the HISD, “Sky Clops” was selected to showcase Square One Education Network at the Big M Conference, which is a gathering of manufacturers conducted annually each summer in Detroit.

One of those attending was Justice.

This vehicle is large enough for a driver, so Justice saw the vehicle, got in and said, “This is the kind of car I want to build! I never want to get out of this car!”

Eventually, Justice did climb out, after a video of him in it was made.

And now, Justice will have every opportunity to get back in and stay for as long as he’d like - because he bought it and the vehicle has been crated and shipped out.

Justice explained the importance of innovative projects: “These students are shipping working hardware on short cycles. Big companies are hungry for this knowledge right now and investing in re-training their workforce for shorter release cycles. These kids are already doing it, and have built themselves an edge in the workforce. I’m a huge fan of Square One and the project-based learning it provides.”

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