The Sustainable Transportation Education Program (STEP) is a collaborative effort with North Carolina State University’s N.C. Solar Center in the College of Engineering and the College of Education. STEP is a program educating middle and high school students on sustainable transportation and the current shift towards the electrification of transportation. The purpose of the STEP program is to prepare students to become immersed in learning about the electrification of transportation and careers. The program provides teacher training and curricula on electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), Smart Grid, alternative fuels, and careers in science, engineering, and technology while providing application to the automotive and supporting infrastructure. The STEP curriculum is a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) based program that includes problem-solving, critical thinking, engineering design process and inquiry-based learning with relevance to real world issues.
STEP includes a hands-on component which in year one included radio control electric vehicles with students learning about battery technologies, powertrain, chassis design, and other related topics. In 2009-2010, the STEP program provided a teachers’ workshop at N.C. State University and piloted the program with six high schools and ten middle schools. An competition is held in May each year at N.C. State with a range, speed, design, and plug-in with focus on a battery technologies, and charging stations. In the batteries competition, students design and construct for the race, a solar powered charging station for their vehicle. You can find results from the 2010 event here.
Funding has been provided by Progress Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the Navy. In Year Two, the STEP team plans to expand the program to include additional schools and community college automotive programs.
The team includes:
N.C. Solar Center staff
Dr. Bill Deluca, Technology Education-College of Education
Dr. Nasim Lari, Research Assistant
Mr. Erik Schettig, Research Assistant
Mr. Michael G. Thornton, Energy Fellow