University of Vermont

Students on the Lawn

Filming Team AERO's CleanSpeed

by Mieko A. Ozeki, M.S., A.L.M, Sustainability Projects Coordinator

I had a fun day with CEF Media Intern, Daniel Hopkins, as we interviewed and filmed UVM's Alternative Energy Racing Organization (AERO) on their CleanSpeed vehicle, a 2011-2012 Clean Energy Fund project. AERO is a student-run club that designs and builds clean energy racing vehicles. The team is composed mostly of engineering students, but has attracted students from other majors. The students' involvement in designing and building a race car is done in addition to their school work.

As I spoke with the four young men on Team AERO - Marc Soldini '13 (President), Andrew Giroux '15 (Vice President, and 2013 President), Ricky Wester '13 (Treasurer), and Will Baker '13- I can see them light up with energy when they talk about the thousands of hours they put into the design, building, and testing of CleanSpeed, an electric powered car they raced in early May at the Formula Hybrid International Competition. Marc drove the car on different stretches of road and pathways on campus on a beautiful Friday late morning and stopped at the Davis Center to do more in depth interviews. Our time with the team was at the tail end of the team showing the car to its various sponsors, mostly in-kind services from local companies, and as the main sponsor, our CEF team took the time to film the car in action. A Board of Trustees meeting was underway in the DC, but it was nice to see parents, staff, and board members come up to the Team to ask them about the car. 


Members of Team AERO watching as Danny filmed a tour of the vehicle.
Left to right: Marc Soldini '13, Ricky Wester '13, Will Baker '13, Danny Hopkins '13,
and Andrew Giroux '15.

The benefit of funding such a project is it gives students the opportunity to apply classroom knowledge to real world problems.  Some of the team mentioned they learned more from their failures and appreciated seeing parts their design actualized.  If John Dewey, famous UVM alumnus from the Class of 1879 and founding father of experiential education, were here today he may have smiled at what this young team accomplished. 

It was great to hear from each graduating senior about the value of their participation in AERO and where they were going next. The incoming president, Andrew, was even more excited to talk about where he is taking this experience and hoping to apply it in the remaining two years of his time at UVM. I believe this experience really served as an anchor point for these young men and what direction they are taking. 

I guess my proudest moment is taking this snapshot of our intern Danny filming the team. Danny is also graduating this year and I have had a great time supervising him as he produced numerous videos for us. I have seen him grow as a videographer, reinvigorating and pushing him to figure out his professional bend toward film. We didn't have many video projects during the spring, but Danny jumped at the opportunity at this end of year project and it gave him the opportunity to work with his new HD camera. As a professional, I value the work of self-directed young professionals and feel encouraged on where they take their learning once they exit the classroom.