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Founding an EV design Team

what is Relectric?

With the automotive industry shifting towards the production of EVs, I felt that it was critical for undergraduate students to get experience researching, designing, and working hands-on with EV technology. In January 2021, I co-founded Queen’s Relectric, an electric vehicle design team at Queen’s University that is focused on creating more sustainable transportation solutions.

While many automotive companies are developing new EVs from the ground up, Relectric is bringing new life to older vehicles by retrofitting them with an electric powertrain and adding modern comforts including a digital dashboard, improved cabin climate controls, and integrated vehicle vision sensors. This saves vehicles from meeting the landfills while providing drivers with a high performing classic vehicle.

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my Role

The team was founded during the pandemic, which unfortunately forced the team to operate remotely for majority of our first year. However, despite these setbacks, we were able to use the year for research and planning which provided a foundation for the year that followed. As the Powertrain and Battery Systems lead, I guided team members through research focussed on EV conversion processes to gain a stronger understanding of the vehicle systems and the corresponding components.

 

In the team’s second year (2022-23), I took the reigns as Team Captain, assisting the technical leadership team in organizing and executing design projects, while managing community outreach and brand development. Over the course of the year, I grew the team to over 50 members while continuing to promote the team and our research at conferences and other events at the university. Additionally, I created a semester long open-ended design challenge for a first-year engineering design course. This provided 30 students with opportunities to apply technical problem-solving skills in a team setting while learning about thermal management and battery systems. Due to the focus on community engagement, the Relectric name became recognized within the Queen’s Engineering student body leading to a membership of 100+ students this year.

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Project Experience

To prepare for converting a full-scale vehicle, one of the first projects I initiated was the conversion of a gas-powered race go-kart to electric. By starting with a smaller scale project, the team was able to develop a working knowledge of EV systems while working with a lower voltage battery system and fewer design constraints.

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The Superkart is a high-performance go-kart that has been fitted with an electric powertrain. It features an AC induction motor that delivers over 80 ft*lbs of instant torque to the wheels, reaching speeds of more than 100 km/h.

I have highlighted two projects that I worked on extensively for the go-kart, the powertrain, and the battery management system. Click on the buttons above to learn more about each project.

At the start of 2023, I coordinated the purchasing of a manual 1997 Jeep Wrangler, which became the team’s latest EV conversion project. This was a very challenging yet exciting milestone to achieve as prior to purchasing the vehicle, I worked extensive planning with Queen’s University’s safety and facilities management staff to ensure that all vehicle work procedures and logistics would fit within insurance and workplace safety regulations.

During my time working on the vehicle, I helped disassemble the cabin to allow the interior team to measure and map out attachment points for the seats, center console, infotainment system, and other components. A similar process was completed for engine bay and the exterior of the vehicle. In the photo on the right, you can see some of my team members and I after successfully pulling the engine. Since it is an older vehicle, the disassembly process took significant patience to remove seized and stripped bolts, requiring impact drills, WD-40 and screw extractors. Minor body damage and corrosion was apparent in many locations on exterior, thus significant body work was required to bring the vehicle to. Working with the marketing team, an old school blue 3M vinyl wrap was selected to bring new life to the vehicle and allowing it to better stand out in our marketing content.

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