WC Electric Boat Racing Team launches into competition

By Maegan White

Elm Staff Writer

The Washington College Electric Boat Racing Team, a subsection of the Maker’s Union Club, placed second in the Wye Island Challenge in October and are now constructing a new boat to compete with in the spring. 

Maker’s Union is under the umbrella of the IDEAWORKS Innovation Center, located in the Clifton M. Miller Library. 

Maker’s Union was started by students in 2015. By 2016, the club was working on electric vehicles. Their first project was converting a mountain bike to electric power.

In 2017, the club entered to compete in the Wye River Challenge 24-mile marathon Electric Boat race. The first year they competed with recycled laptops, 26 volt scavenged lithium cell battery pack, a 17-foot canoe, and a steering rudder system with a remote joystick control.

They did not finish the race that first year. However, every year since, the team continued to develop better designs and compete in the marathon race. In 2019, the WC Electric Boat team took first in their category and third overall. 

In 2020 and 2022 they took second overall and in 2021 they took first overall in the competition.

According to Director of Digital Media Services Brian Palmer, they have raced in other competitions against top tier university, professional engineers, and other well-resourced teams. 

The team is now working on transitioning from marathon racing to sprint racing. They are preparing to race in the National Society of Naval Engineers’ Prompting Electric Propulsion (PEP) five-mile sprint competition against universities like the United States Naval Academy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, University of Michigan, and more. 

According to Team President senior Seyed Marjaei, each member is essential to the success of the team and the creation of their new boat.

Marjaei explained that it can be a challenge to craft an entirely new project. 

“For us to compete at the highest level, we are in the construction phase of building a whole new boat,” Marjaei said. “For us to be able to compete successfully and beat all these big schools, we have to build the fastest boat we can with the limited resources we have.”

The team has completed the design stage and have moved into the construction phase of the new boat. They will be ready to compete in June in the PEP.

Business and Marketing Lead freshman Mia Snyder said that she was introduced to the club during an orientation senate on Academic Technology in the library. 

“It seemed really exciting to have STEM at a liberal arts institution,” Snyder said. “I was really interested in engineering and IDEAWORKS provided that without getting a degree.”

According to Palmer, the club follows a liberal arts approach but supports multiple disciplinary approaches in the success of the club. Their team has students across multiple different majors.

“Our team leverages a multitude of backgrounds to bring a more complete view of the challenges we face and approaches to tackling those challenges,” Palmer said.

Marjaei said that Maker’s Union is all about students coming together in the pursuit of creativity.

“We want more people in WC to be more involved. 90 percent of our team started this year,” Marjaei said. “They are all freshmen or new. If you are passionate about boating, passionate about sustainability and new technologies and want to be a part of a team, come check us out.”

The Electric Boat Racing teams meet every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the basement of the Clifton M. Miller Library. Students interested in learning more can attend a meeting or follow the club on instagram @wac_electricboatrace. 

The club also just published a website, WACElectricBoat.com.

Photo courtesy of Seyed Marjaei

Photo Caption: Any interested students can join the team regardless of prior experience.

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