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Sun Sentinel – School’s electric vehicle program makes great strides

By Chris Guanche, Forum Publishing Group

May 3, 2013
The auto garage at Miramar High School looks similar to one you’d take your car to for repairs, but the mechanics are students.

Tucked away in a corner of the campus, the garage is home to both the auto service class and the electric vehicle team. Both programs fall under the eye of teacher Lowell Simmons, now marking his 30th year at Miramar High. The course is available to students as a four-year program starting freshman year. The first year sticks to technical concepts in books rather than hands-on work.

“It weeds out a lot of people who realize that it’s not their calling,” Simmons said.

The program got its start in 1996 as part of a Florida Power & Light challenge for schools to convert a gas car to electric. For that effort, Simmons and his students converted a 1994 Ford Probe to electric using golf cart batteries. But the battery technology of 1996 was far more primitive than that found in modern cars like the Toyota Prius.

“It didn’t have a lot of performance,” Simmons said. “The battery weighed as much as the rest of the car.”



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