The members of the UVic Hybrid team are thinking about the impact their learning today will have on our environment tomorrow. In addition to winning races on the track, members of UVic Hybrid are preparing themselves to help create a sustainable future.
Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa said in business technology magazine Fast Company that “green technology is the future of Formula 1.” To the tight-knit 15-person UVic Hybrid team, green technology isn’t just the future of Formula motorsport — it’s the future for society.
“Formula 1 actually uses hybrids so our development on the hybrid here is similar to what they’re doing in the field,” says Alecia LeBlanc, a Mechanical Engineering student and ex-Team Lead for the UVic Hybrid team. “I think that the developments that you’re seeing in race cars, especially in Formula 1 and Formula Electric, are all things that eventually end up helping [improve] electric and hybrid production vehicles.”
Learning in the classroom is an important part of training for their future, but hands-on experience is even more valuable than the thousands of dollars students spend on tuition.
“We actually have alumni from the team who work at Tesla now,” LeBlanc explains, “and some who worked at [General Motors] on some of their electric car builds. One member is now working on the Google car as well.”
Here at UVic, students are passionate about the environment. The Divest UVic movement was a hot topic last year, and as the summers grow hotter, and the evidence of global warming piles up, students are doing more to wake the world up to the needs of our planet.
Passion for the environment and green technology is one of the things that drives students like LeBlanc to join a club such as UVic Hybrid. When asked if, as engineering students, members felt pressure to turn their attention to the environment, the answer was a resounding yes.
“Why I joined engineering was with that goal in mind,” said LeBlanc, “This is a need that society has, so it’s pretty pertinent to go into these fields right now.”
Tylynn Haddow, Electrical Engineering, said, “Yes, I’ve always been interested in transportation and to see the direction that we’re moving — towards more sustainable stuff — and how [I] can be a part of it, is really exciting.”
UVic Hybrid allows its members to gain experience that will help them become innovators in their field. However, those with a passion for transportation and green energy aren’t the only UVic students interested in the club.
Cayenne Chen, a Mechanical Engineering student, wasn’t always interested in transportation. However, like many UVic students, Chen is passionate about making a difference.
“I’ve always kind of been drawn to doing something with my life that is going to benefit the environment,” said Chen, adding that UVic Hybrid is an excellent place to develop the skills to make change.
“What’s cool about hybrid technology is that the things that we learn here making fast hybrids are also applicable to making efficient hybrids,” says Haddow. “All this knowledge can also be used to help with [producing] cars that are more focused on efficiency.”
The hands-on participation that a club like UVic Hybrid provides encourages members to face and adapt to unexpected challenges, and welcome opportunities that they may not get anywhere else.
Along with learning how to build like the pros, UVic Hybrid members are also provided a place to foster lasting friendships. Sometimes they organize outside activities for the team, such as board game nights or moped rides around Victoria.
“I really like the close-knit group,” LeBlanc says. “it’s easy to get to know people on the team and become friends with them.”
UVic Hybrid prepares members for their future and it also provides a home away from home. It is a place with myriad opportunities to cultivate meaningful university experiences as well as a bright future.