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Students begin first electric van conversion in LINC class

University students will begin converting a 2003 Ford E-250 cargo van into an electric van in a Learning in Community engineering class Thursday.

Kevin Wolz, one of the project managers and senior in LAS and Engineering, said this van will be one of the first of its kind in terms of its weight class and type.

The electric van will replace the Sustainable Student Farm’s old van — a 1991 Chevy running at about 6 miles per gallon. Once the new van is converted to electric, it will be powered at a solar charging station at the farm.

The LINC class allows teams of students to work on projects proposed by community partners. The long-term project has been in the planning stages in the class for three semesters and is a collaborative effort between Student Sustainable Farm manager Zack Grant and crop sciences professor Bruce Branham.

At the end of last semester, the project received $66,970 in funding from the Student Sustainability Committee to purchase the van and begin the conversion.

“There’s plans all over the Internet about converting a car into electric,” Wolz said. “But when you get to a van, it gets more top-heavy, and there are no instructions about how to do it.”

Last weekend, Grant and his assistant picked up the Sears van from Chicago. The van was inspected by employees at the University’s Garage & Car Pool, and released to the class.
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