MINDDRIVE’S Mission Statement: To inspire students to learn, expand their vision of the future and have a positive influence on urban workforce development. Our objective is to involve the adults of our community in the education of the children of our community.

What We Do

MINDDRIVE’S mission is to inspire students to learn, expand their vision of the future, and to have a positive impact on urban workforce development. The program is funded through the national sponsorships of Bridgestone, Hertz Corporation, SONIC®, America’s Drive-In®, KCP&L, American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation (ASME), Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Kansas City, and VML, as well as through local foundations and individual contributors.

MINDDRIVE serves 40 students from the urban core of Kansas City, currently working with over 5 area schools; there are 28 students participating in Automotive Design Studio and 12 in Contemporary Communications. The students choose their course and also are given the freedom to align with the particular aspect of the project that gets them the most jazzed. Mentors play a huge role in finding what that spark is for each student, then figuring out a way to inspire them in that direction.

Who We Serve

The students of MINDDRIVE are recruited (through an application process) from the urban core of Kansas City, including Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS. We also have a few students who come from rural communities, well outside what you would call “urban.”

Our focus is on students who are “at-risk” and for our purposes, this means that they are slipping through the cracks of the “traditional” educational system in one way or another. Our experiential learning techniques, hands-on teaching and one-on-one mentoring enable us to reach these students in a new way, inspiring them to want to learn in their core subjects in school. We are able to address the individual student and help him or her through the blockages they may be experiencing that hinder learning.

We accept applications in August and our program begins in September each year. Our students and the parents of our students have signed contracts of understanding regarding the requirements and participation in the program. Our mentors are well-procured, professional individuals who give of their time and their talent and who work to forge important relationships with our students and with each other.

About Our Cars

Currently, our cars are:

  1. A recycled 1999 Lola Champ Car
  2. A recycled 2000 Reynard Champ Car
  3. A 1977 Lotus Esprit
  4. A 1967 fully converted, electric Karmann Ghia

The two champ cars have the center tub and suspensions that were adapted to support a full-body and electrical propulsion system. The electrical components are lithium-ion batteries that total 72 and 96 volts. The first car had a 9” DC motor driving through a chain and sprocket system. The second car has a hub-drive that would increase the MPGe from 450 to 600. The cars each weigh approximately 1,000 pounds.

The Lotus Esprit was reduced in weight by about 600 pounds and fully converted to run on 96 volts using litium ion batteries. It was designed for 55 mph and had a range of between 60 – 80 miles, depending on terrain. The students and their mentors took this car on a cross country trek from San Diego, CA to Jacksonville, FL in 2012 – the first high school group to accomplish such a journey! There were 40 stops and approximately 24 presentations were made by our students, speaking to other school groups, university and college groups, environmental organizations, utility companies and the general public in small towns’ center square. Most students experienced traveling by air and swimming in the ocean for the first time, leaving an indelible impact on the memories they hold of their teenage years.

The Karmann Ghia is a beautifully designed, timeless vehicle made by Volkswagon but no longer in production. The monocoque design of the body allows for easy repairs, the interiors can be fully restored with a consumer-ready interior kit, the frame is the same as their current Volkswagon Beetle, and the space in front and back easily accommodates the batteries allowing us to leave the back seat in tact.

The students and their mentors took the Karmann Ghia on a journey from Kansas City to Akron, OH for an educational experience on tires and rolling resistance by Bridgestone, and then on to  Washington DC to meet with legislators and government officials. They were hosted by IEEE and the ASME and conducted a congressional briefing on The Hill with an audience of about 100 people. Their message was clear. Experiential, hands-on STEM education leads to the creation of important jobs and a sustainable lifestyle.

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