Boating Magazine: Pitt students hone engineering (and life) skills in electric boat competition
College Students Build Electric Boats, Experience, and Confidence at University of Pittsburgh
Image above: The team includes more than 40 undergraduates studying 10 different disciplines of engineering as well as finance, economics, marketing, computer science, and business information systems. Left to Right: Dr. Tony Kerzmann; Kevin Gu; Clinton Connelly; Casandra Nickelson; David Marcano; Nicholas Genco; Shreyas Vivekanandan; Josh Lubin; Luke Sowinsk. Courtesy Pittsburgh Electric Propulsion
Engineering students at University of Pittsburgh, until recently, were offered little hands-on experience with electric vehicles of any type. So last year, when then-junior Nick Genco saw an opportunity for a club at Pitt dedicated to racing electric boats in the Promoting Electric Propulsion (PEP) for Small Craft competition held by the American Society of Naval Engineers, he jumped in. That was the summer of 2021. The race was the following May. Plenty of time, right?
“I didn’t grow up boating. I played basketball in high school,” Genco says. “I really knew nothing about boating or the effects of getting on a plane or anything like that. As I got more into the actual boating aspects, I found out there was a lot to learn.”
Pittsburgh Electric Propulsion, the name chosen for the university sponsored student design team, now includes more than 40 undergraduates studying 10 different disciplines of engineering as well as finance, economics, marketing, computer science and business information systems. With the university still in Covid lockdowns, however, they couldn’t meet to actually build a boat until late October. For trim and displacement measurements, they carried their fully rigged 13-foot Zodiac Milpro ERB400 inflatable up infamous Cardiac Hill to the nearest warm water — Pitt’s indoor swimming pool.