18 May 2022 | Story Lunga Luthuli
East College - Eco Vehicles Team
Overall winners of the 2022 Eco-vehicle race, East College, hard at work to get their car ready for the race held at the Odeion parking lot on the Bloemfontein Campus.

For the first time, the University of the Free State’s 2022 Eco-vehicle race – held on the Bloemfontein Campus on 14 May 2022 – had students from all three campuses participating in the programme and race; a cup was awarded to the college with the best support.

Although the annual event did take place in 2021, only team members were allowed access to campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown regulations, and therefore the race was streamed live. 

Karen Scheepers, Assistant Director: Student Life, said: “To have the students back on campus supporting their teams was incredible; this event will become bigger and better every year.”

With the Eco-vehicle race project, the UFS aims to use an innovative skills development approach that will enable students to develop basic knowledge and skills on sustainable energy.

This year, 130 undergraduate students enrolled for this co-curricular skills programme that runs for nine months and culminates in the Eco-vehicle race. A total of eight teams competed in the energy efficiency race, speed race, obstacle course race, and the main event – the endurance race. For the first time in the main event, the teams raced against each other for 18 laps. 

The winners of this year’s event were Central College (Akasia, Karee, Kagiso, Soetdoring, and Wag-’n-Bietjie residences) for Spirit Cup, South Campus took home the Pit Stop, North College won the Smart Lap, and South College won the Endurance Race. The overall winners of the Eco-vehicle race were East College (Legatum residence). 

The driver for East College, Lebakeng Motlotlo, said: “Even though I have always been part of the KovsieACT Committee in my residence, seeing that the focus this year was more on energy saving and saving resources, it pushed me to participate.”

Motlotlo believes the practice he and his team went through worked for them, as they were able to practise “how to turn, slow down around corners, and save energy”. 

“Our team was very dedicated and knew how to improvise when faced with challenges. As a small residence and most of us living off campus, the race taught us the importance of teamwork.” 

Motlotlo believes “initiatives such as the Eco-vehicle race are important, as we learn other skills outside of lectures, which we sometimes think are not important”.

Scheepers said the plan is to “grow the programme, motivate other universities to also invest in their students through this programme, and race to become a national and maybe an international event”.

“The programme adds value to the student experience to ensure that they do not only obtain a degree during their study period, but also undergo practical application of acquired knowledge and skills through real-life situations and meaningful learning encounters,” said Scheepers. 

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