STA Experimental Vehicle Team

The Saint Thomas Academy Experimental Vehicle Team was created in 1998 to take students out of the textbook and provide budding engineers with real-life problem solving activities. Students are pushed to realize that science is not always easy, does not always work, and that the answers are not always at the back of the book.

2015 Solar Car Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway - National Championship

The Experimental Vehicle Team (EVT) took first place in the Electric-Solar Powered Division of the 2015 Solar Car Challenge, a national competition for high school teams held July 17-23 at Texas Motor Speedway. The EVT’s “Urban Concept 3” car completed 287 laps total for 549 miles over four days of racing at Texas Motor Speedway. The second place team in the division finished 12 miles behind the Cadets. In addition to winning its division, the team also received the Texas State Energy Conservation Office Awards for displaying the highest level of engineering excellence.

“We could not be more proud of our student engineers,” said EVT co-moderator Caroline Little (with Mark Westlake). “Overcoming extreme heat and a very competitive field of cars made this one of our most rewarding races. The support of Power Systems Research* allowed our team to really stretch ourselves this year as we took on this new and unique race division.”

The Solar Car Challenge is a race of efficiency; the goal for each team is to complete as many laps as possible over four days using only the power of the sun to recharge its car. The Cadets raced in the new Solar-Electric Powered Division, which simulates real-world electric cars using only a student-designed and -built solar charging station to recharge the car's batteries. The 1,300-watt photovoltaic array could completely recharge the vehicle in about 90 minutes.

* The late George Zirnhelt (father of Tony ’87 and Joe ’91) founded Power System Research.

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2014 Shell Eco-Marathon at Texas Motor Speedway - 2nd & 3rd Places

The Experimental Vehicle Team (EVT) competed April 25-27, 2014, in Houston, TX, in the Shell Eco-Marathon. Students built two cars to compete in the battery electric urban concept division; these cars are required to have all of the same systems as a street-legal car.  

They were subjected to two days of rigorous inspection and two days of course racing. The team overcame many obstacles, working late to make repairs and prepare the cars for the competition.  

The STA vehicles finished second and third, behind Sherbrooke Université of Quebec. The EVT was the top U.S. team in its division and the top high school team.  

EVT Motorcycle on Display in Boston

The Safer Urban Motorcycle developed by the 2007-08 Experimental Vehicle Team (EVT) and a video of the students are being featured in Rights of Way: Mobility and the City exhibition hosted by the Boston Society of Architects (BSA). The exhibition opened in December at the BSA Space gallery in downtown Boston and concludes May 26, 2014.

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2013 Shell Eco-Marathon Americas in Houston - 2nd Place

The urban concept car developed by the Experimental Vehicle Team (EVT) placed second for battery/electric vehicles at the 2013 Shell Eco-Marathon Americas competition, held in Houston, April 5-7. For its second-place finish with 118.4 kilowatts per kilowatt hour, or 2,500 miles per gallon of gasoline, the Academy’s team won a $1,000 cash prize. The car went 74 miles on a dime’s worth of electricity. The Eco-Marathon gives high school and college students from North and South America a chance to design and build futuristic vehicles that are tested for fuel efficiency on the streets of Houston. The team with the best fuel efficiency wins.            

“Throughout the design and construction process, the students continually surprised me with how creative they were and their willingness to learn new skills,” said teacher Mark Westlake. “Watching my students work together as a team to prepare the car for each run and then coach the driver during the ten laps of the race made me proud to be part of our program.”

Applying their knowledge of physics, electrical systems, engines and molds, the students actually designed and built two vehicles to race in the competition: the urban concept car and a prototype battery/electric car.

Team members included:

  • Thomas D'Agostino ’13, driver of the prototype car
  • Kevin Riehm ’13
  • Robert D'Agostino ’14, driver of the urban concept car
  • Ian Nichols ’14
  • Joseph Muske ’14, driver of the urban concept car
  • Grant Grojean ’14
  • Jack Ryan ’14, driver of the prototype car
  • Connor Shea ’15
  • Nicholas Michalik ’15
  • Matthew Michalski ’15
  • Branick Weix ’15

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