On July 24, 2017, Bellevue College students helped build an ultralight carbon fiber car that gets 100 MPG—right in the middle of campus. The students worked with Wikispeed, an organization dedicated not only to making cars greener—but also to revolutionizing how we make things.
The car build is part of the college’s RISE Learning Institute’s new Makers & Scholars Summer Experience, which features hands-on workshops in fields like genomics, fire engineering, 3D design and robotics. It also includes makerspace events that allow students to create their own projects using new technologies and techniques.
“We want to inspire students to reach their highest potential,” said Dr. Gita Bangera, founder of the RISE Learning Institute. “By giving them hands-on experience with emerging technologies, we hope they will see themselves as future scientists, inventors and innovators.”
The RISE Learning Institute is a relatively new unit at Bellevue College, and its mission is to promote research, innovation, service and experiential learning. “RISE is all about learning by doing,” said Bangera. “Research shows that hands-on learning helps all students, but it specifically engages students who are underrepresented in higher education. By providing a single point of support for hands-on learning, BC is leading the way nationally among community colleges.”
The carbon fiber cars belong to the college’s longstanding partner, Wikispeed. Wikispeed is a nonprofit organization of volunteers who design, manufacture and test hyper-efficient cars. They have pioneered a philosophy called eXtreme Manufacturing, which takes the rapid prototyping and collaborative team concepts from Agile Scrum software development and applies them to manufacturing.
Joe Justice, the founder of Wikispeed, explained the organization’s philosophy: “Extreme manufacturing takes the best practices for distributed team management, frugal engineering and frugal design to solve tough challenges and make the world a better place.” William Newing, a leader of Wikispeed teams, said, “We’re very excited to be here at Bellevue College. BC has fantastic students—and they have made exceptionally valuable contributions as volunteers and interns.”
Ryan Gelzer, a BC alum who interned at Wikispeed, said, “The skills and experience I gained at Wikispeed have helped me as a mechanical engineering student and even affect my daily routine in small ways. Now I always use a Scrum board for planning my to-dos! Getting to build parts of the Wikispeed car can give students a glimpse into what they want to do in the future or at least inspire them with an example of what you can create given a little passion and dedication.”
BC students have been working with Wikispeed for more than five years. “Wikispeed has been a fantastic partner,” said Michael Reese, director of program development for the RISE Learning Institute and a lead organizer of the events. “Our students have amazing hands-on learning experiences there. Wikispeed is very welcoming—and very accessible to students with no previous automotive experience.”
Reese added, “We’ve been bringing the students to the cars for a while. This summer, we decided to bring the cars to the students.”
For more information about the RISE Learning Institute’s Makers & Scholars Summer Experience, visit www.bellevuecollege.edu/rise/rise-for-students/makers/.
Last Updated July 24, 2017