Young Engineers Academy
Kyle Estabrook, a junior from Groton, prepares to take Nashoba Tech’s solar-and battery-powered car out for a spin.
Students in the Electronics/Robotics and Engineering Technology programs at Nashoba Tech stand behind the solar-and battery-powered car they built (left) and an electrical car they also are working on. At far left is UMass Lowell Professor Sam Mil’shtein, and in back at far right are, from left, Engineering Technology instructor James Landry, Nashoba Tech Director of Technology Carol Heidenrich, and Electronics/Robotics instructor Charles Pentedemos.
WESTFORD — Nashoba Valley Technical High School is doing its part to save the earth
Students and staff in the Electronics/Robotic and Engineering Technology Programs have, with the help of a professor from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, built a car that runs on batteries and solar power. Professor Sam Mil’shtein of the UMass Lowell Engineering Department came to Nashoba Tech once every two weeks in the 2006-2007 school year to help teach the students about solar power and solar-powered vehicles. With his help, as well as the efforts of Electronics/Robotics Instructor Charles Pentedemos and Engineering Technology Instructor James Landry, the students were able to get a good jump on building a car that runs on nothing but batteries and the sun. They hope to race the vehicle in next May’s Solar BikeRayce USA in Missouri, a three-hour race that emphasizes endurance rather than speed. Throughout the year, students were divided into several work groups. Some worked on building the battery and motor system, some on the steering, others on the vehicle’s body, braking mechanism and solar panels. Together, their efforts were a success.“We started late and we were stalled over a technicality,” Mil’shtein said. “But because of the tremendous potential this school has, I’m sure we will build, technically, a solar car. This school has extraordinary potential,” he added. “In a regular high school, the technical base is much narrower. It doesn’t allow you to get the hands-on experience.”
Mil’shtein came to UMass Lowell in 1987. The next year, he founded the Young Engineers Academy, the goal of which is “work with gifted and capable kids and promote an interest in science and engineering, and make them college-bound,” according to Mil’shtein. From what he has seen at Nashoba Tech, “I do believe this school’s program will dramatically increase the number of students going into college for engineering.” Mil’shtein gives much of the credit to the efforts of Pentedemos and Landry.The students are also working on building a car that is completely powered by electricity. The car was originally built by students in the Electrical Technology Program.