The Electric Car Showcase held on Saturday at KO was a tremendous success. Initiated and organized by students of the Robotics Team, they ran a professional grade event with 33 electric cars, sponsors, vendors and various organizations.
With the smell of barbequed burgers from Plan B and free cannoli from Ameriprise Financial, dozens of electric vehicles lining the main circle of campus, Head of School Tom Dillow welcomed the participants and attendees to the first Electric Car Showcase at KO. He said that the event signified the perfect union of environmental consciousness, STEM education and innovation coming together. He said that this student-led event is an example of what KO cares about most, which is student ownership.
The event was the brainchild of Matt Safalow ’19. He and others from the Robotics Team greeted participants at the front entrance and directed them to their display location. He said to the crowd that planning for the event began in May. As of a few months ago, Safalow indicated that they had “zero cars” for the showcase so that the resulting turn out for the event was “insane.” He thanked Coach Kathleen DiSanto for guiding the team to host the event. “She was absolutely incredible in helping plan the event. She would reply to her emails within five minutes of receiving them,” Safalow said.
The former head of the Metro-Hartford Alliance and gubernatorial candidate, Oz Griebel, addressed the crowd. The organization spearheads economic development in the region. Impressed by the scale and organization of the event, Griebel said that the KO students gave him confidence in the future of Connecticut as the state competes for jobs, capital and talent. “I am energized by the future of Connecticut, Griebel said.
Bernie Pelletier and Catherine Diviney from the West Hartford Clean Energy Commission, a task force that promotes the use of clean energy, read an official statement from Governor Malloy regarding the adoption of clean energy in the state and proclaimed September 8 – 16 as National Drive Electric Week. At the display of the Commission, volunteers cited how the town of West Hartford is saving energy by LED retrofits for interior and exterior spaces and streetlamps as well as energy-efficient building control systems. The Commission offered energy-saving suggestions to consumers including purchasing LED light bulbs, auditing their homes for energy solutions and installing programmable thermostats and installing insulation.
And then there was the main event: Nissan Leaf, Prius Prime, Ford Fusion, Honda Insight and high-end vehicles such as a Lexus hybrid, BMW and a Porsche captivated the crowds. Attendees spoke to automotive dealers including sponsor Hoffman Auto about the advantages of driving electric. Students aka future drivers sat behind the wheel of several models. The Robotics Team displayed their robot that performed several functions.
Although admission was free, any proceeds from the event aided Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), which helps refugees establish new lives and contribute to the vitality of Connecticut’s communities. A volunteer from the organization, Leslie Ohta, explained how the organization aims to help refugees adjust to their new lives. She stated that it takes approximately seven years for a refugee to become fully independent in this country, and one of the chief barriers to his or her success is the lack of transportation to a place of employment. She offered a hopeful story of a young local Iraqi woman who after three years upon immigrating to the U.S., the woman now attends the University of Pennsylvania on scholarship. She said that these newly arrived refugees contribute to the richness of our country.
Robotics Team members include:
Ben Poulios ’19/Matt Safalow ’19: Public relations
Sean Clifford ’19/Ella Schwartz ’20: Lead builders
Kevin Wan ’19/Stacey Zhang/Mike Doyle ‘20/Mason Goldschlager ’22r/Vishal Kumar ’20
Jandel Resto ’22/Ashleigh Stepnowsk ’22i: Project manager
Aidan McDonald ’21/Sean Burnham ’21: Lead programmers
Tommy Dan ’21/Charles Zhao ’22: Programmers