Students at this Lakeshore high school will build an electric vehicle every semester

CBC News

St. Anne Catholic High School is the first school in Canada to obtain a Switch EV kit

Students at an Emeryville, Ont., high school are getting a hands-on education about electric vehicles — by building one themselves.

According to the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB), St. Anne Catholic High School in Lakeshore is the first secondary school in Canada to obtain and utilize a Switch electric vehicle kit.

The learning tool allows students to assemble and disassemble a fully-functional three-wheeled vehicle powered by a 96-volt lithium ion battery.

“Everything is open and exposed so that the students can see all of the components,” said Gianni Pizzuto, the automotive teacher at St. Anne.

“Electrical systems, battery cells, some diagnostics — all of that stuff.”

Students in Pizzuto’s class will have a full semester to put the Switch vehicle together, and eventually test it out in the school’s parking lot.

Once the semester is complete, the vehicle can be taken apart for the next group of students.

Pizzuto said the assembled Switch vehicle is classified as a motorcycle, and has a top speed of almost 145 km/h — but students will only be driving it in the parking lot at low speeds.

Equipped with a 108-horsepower motor, the Switch is capable of accelerating 0 to 95 km/h in six seconds. The charge capacity of its battery limits its range to around 65 kilometres.

“It’s more of a trainer,” Pizzuto said.

“But it will move… This can be registered and driven on the road.”

EV programming and testing are now part of Pizzuto’s curriculum, along with basic automotive principles such as braking and steering systems, and suspension.

Two 16-year-old students being taught by Pizzuto — Pavithra Rajesh and Adela Moloci — said they’re finding the Switch EV lessons fascinating.

“I might take this as a job,” said Moloci, who just earned her driver’s licence last week.

Rajesh said she’s interested in pursuing post-secondary studies in even more advanced vehicle technology — such as aeronautics.

“I feel like this would be a good start.”

Pizzuto pointed to the billions of dollars of investment in EV manufacturing planned for the Windsor-Essex region.

“Why not get our students ready for these jobs that are available to them in the future?”

The WECDSB unveiled the Switch EV kit to the public with a news event on Thursday.

Among the attendees was Joe Araujo — chief operating officer at the coming NextStar EV battery plant in Windsor.

“NextStar is very happy and fortunate to be a part of this great community,” Araujo said.

“We look forward to having many students from this curriculum join our team in the near future.”