A SELF-SUFFICIENT CAR
JOEY KOURY | CLASS OF 2018
What inspired your project?
The project was originally conceived in our school's 9th
grade Design Technology class, by a group consisting
of Enzo Schlatter, Liam Branch, Nicholas Cialone, Suraj
Patel, and me. We started researching and designing an
electric car whose energy to power the car would never
run out! We first had the idea to use solar panels, but solar panels are expensive and solar cars already exist. We
then thought to use the idea of electromagnetic induction. To build a prototype, we searched for devices that
already existed and that used a technology close to electromagnetic induction. We found them in wind turbines.
In this project, the battery is being used to run the car; at
the same time, solar and turbines charge the battery.
What was the biggest challenge in developing it?
Sticking with it to conclusion! While this began in my
first semester at International, I continued it thanks to
Design Tech in 10th grade, and two years in Science
Club (Wednesdays after school). My original partners
lost interest after a few months, but I stuck with it. It really came to fruition at the end of 10th grade, with the
presentation at the Maker Faire. In terms of assembling
the car, the hardest part was constructing the base layout
on the computer. I had never used SketchUp or Illustrator before, so it was tough. Luckily, I had M. Le Renard
and Ms. Abécassis always there to help me.
The most fun or exciting part of the process?
The most exciting and rewarding part was gluing the
wind turbines to the wheels of the car to finally see that
my vision became a reality. Even though it was attached
unprofessionally (using hot glue and cardboard), it was
a great moment. From that point on, as I ran scientific
tests over and over, the data showed how the four wind
turbines actually did what my hypothesis said--make the
car run for a longer period of time. That's when I realized that all my work was worth it.
What did you learn?
From a science perspective, I grasped Faraday's discov-
ery of electromagnetic induction. I learned how to con-
vert DC current to AC current and vice versa. I learned
how to use a breadboard, a basic tool in electronics. I
learned about companies around the world, like Spark
Fun, who make components off-the-shelf that I could use
to build my car. I learned how to solder. I learned the
importance of setting up the scientific tests properly, so
that the results are more bulletproof later on.
From a design perspective, I learned the power of
software programs like SketchUp and Illustrator. I also
learned how to use the laser cutter, which I used to build
the base of the car. I learned that even if you're not good
at drawing (like me), you could get around this by finding pictures on the internet, tracing them, and adding
your own design and specifications.
From a business perspective, I learned how important it
was to make an awesome display board and be able to
clearly describe my project to people in an interesting
way. I learned that if I don't believe in my project, then I
couldn’t expect others to. While there were a number of
naysayers, when others saw my passion and energy they
were in full support for me to succeed.
The Maker Faire Experience?
The experience was unbelievable! My sister described
it as "Disneyland for nerds." For two-and-a-half days, I
had practically nonstop visitors checking out the self-sufficient car. Engineers had flown in from all around the
world. Families came from just down the road. Academics came from different schools in the United States.
They came to my table and I described the car, the science behind it, and the process. I learned a tremendous
amount just hearing their feedback and listening to their
questions and comments. It was extremely motivating
because they were so excited that a 15-year-old in 10th
grade at a school in San Francisco would be working
on such a cool project. Meeting all those people who
were interested in my project definitely motivated me to
I would like to thank Barbara Abécassis for giving us a
platform to think and build creatively in Design Technology class, and inviting me to apply for the Maker's Faire;
Julien Astruc and Xavier Le Renard for helping me step
by step in Science Club; my friend Suraj, who began this
project with me and who still encourages me; and my
family for always supporting me in this, helping with the
display board and at the Maker Faire.