Wistia Video URL
The Tufts Electric Racing Team has grown to more than 50 undergraduate students, with an ethos of teaching one another, inclusiveness, and learning by doing. Video: Anna Miller

How a Scrappy Team of Students Built an Electric Racecar in a Year

The Tufts Electric Racing Team goes beyond the nuts and bolts of engineering 

Alex Savic, E24, knows his way around a garage and can effortlessly find the right-sized wrench in a sea of tools necessary to build a formula-style, electric race car. But it wasn’t always the case. Just three years ago, he was a complete newbie. 

“I joined Tufts Electric Racing just after the COVID-19 pandemic, and there were only four of us,” says Savic, now the chief mechanical engineer of the club. “No one knew how to build a car or what any of the things in the garage even were.”

With those days in the rearview mirror, the Tufts Electric Racing Team has grown to more than 50 undergraduate students, with an ethos of teaching one another, inclusiveness, and learning by doing—and there’s a lot to do.

During the 2023-24 academic year, the team built a 160-horsepower electric car that is designed to go from 0 to 60 mph in about five seconds. The car has entirely new electrical and powertrain systems, and redesigned suspension as well. Instead of purchasing the components, the students chose to fabricate as much as they could themselves in Bray Precision Advanced Learning Labs and Shops (PALLS).  

“It’s the best hands-on experience that they can get,” says Brandon Stafford, the manager of the Tufts makerspace Nolop, lecturer of mechanical engineering, and the club’s faculty advisor.

Stafford says that the hands-on building and troubleshooting experience will be invaluable as club members enter the workforce and take on tomorrow’s most pressing challenges– engineering solutions for medical devices, climate change, or space exploration.

“They do a whole bunch of math, a whole bunch of CAD [computer-aided design], they actually get to build something,” Stafford says. “And then they get to discover, was it right? Does the car actually drive?”

Despite having rigorous coursework and part-time jobs, students carve out time on nights and weekends to meet in Bray PALLS to work on the car. When competition season rolls around, the most dedicated pull all-nighters before the Formula Hybrid+Electric Competition, held annually at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.

“We do it for the joy of the engineering,” says Henry Ammirato, E24, the chief electrical engineer of the club, when asked what drives the team. Ammirato, who recently graduated, could often be found near the car’s chassis teaching first-years how to use power tools like angle grinders, or mentoring new students designing a complex wiring system for the first time. 

“When I was a freshman, I wanted someone to teach me these things,” says Ammirato. “Now that I’m a senior, I want to give this knowledge to the freshmen of the team, because they will be the ones that create an even better car than me. It’s that generational knowledge is what’s most important on a team like this.”

Luckily, Tufts Electric Racing team’s roster is made up of a majority of underclassmen who are eager to take up the challenge and teach future students what they have learned. 

“I came on to this team thinking that I was going to conquer everything and be the best, and I was not appreciative of the fact that there was so much I didn’t know,” says David Litvak, E27, who worked side by side with students in the garage every Saturday. “There is so much to learn along the way, and the best way to do that is to work with the people around you to bring it home together.”

Back to Top