Three university teams — Sherbrooke, Virginia Tech and Rochester Institute of Technology — participated in this year’s eMotoRacing Varsity Challenge electric motorcycle race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, July 15-16.
The teams were competing for a $1000 scholarship, awarded for the fourth consecutive year by Woodcraft Technologies. Each team brought a large number of young students to work on their prototype bikes; the enthusiasm and camaraderie were infectious. The scholarship this year went to Team EMUS of Sherbrooke University from Quebec; they won the scholarship last year, as well. The following is a little about each university team that was able to participate.
Sherbrooke Team EMUS
Team EMUS of Sherbrooke University won their second consecutive Varsity Challenge this past. From Quebec, the French-Canadian team boasts over 25 members. This year, the key word to their project’s inspiration was reliability, as they sought to build a bike much closer to production quality. Next year, Sherbrooke hopes to bring two bikes to the competition as their program continues to expand.
Virginia Tech Bolt 3
Virginia Tech unveiled the third iteration of their eBike project last year at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Bolt 3 is the most powerful version of Virginia Tech’s line of eBikes that began in 2011 and won the Varsity Challenge in 2014, the first year of the competition. For students at Virginia Tech, the eBike race in mid-July represents the conclusion of their school projects. Virginia Tech allows students to work on different projects for their senior capstone, and many choose to work on Bolt during their final year.
Rochester Institute of Technology
The Rochester Institute of Technology Electric Vehicle Team allows students to come together from different majors and interests to work on a collaborative project. The team incorporates a sponsorship and design team in addition to its engineering teams. Many students join their freshman year and will spend over 15 hours a week working on their eBike. RIT won the Varsity Challenge in 2015.
Don’t think that the students didn’t take this seriously. After Arthur Kowitz won the eSuperSport race on Saturday over Sherbrooke EMUS, all three teams worked late into the night, reviewing data acquired during the race, changing gearing and tires, and preparing to do battle on the next day. At the finish line on Sunday, Sherbrooke and Virginia Tech finished 1-2, with Kowitz third. It is wonderful that the students are learning their bikes through hands-on competition, and not just relying on theory, dyno time and static testing. This is racing.
Special thanks to Wanda & Arthur Kowitz and Murrae Haynes for their efforts in organizing and supporting the students.