• A non-profit organization whose mission statement is to inspire at-risk teens to want to learn by expanding their vision for the future, and to transform and sustain the urban work force.
  • The expanded mission includes working in urban communities with teens on green technology and innovation through critical thinking and experiential learning.
  • Projects include building unique electric cars, teaching efficiency dynamics and innovative aerodynamics, integrating with school curriculum in math, science and history, counseling students on career paths, and securing positions for them in like-minded industries within their urban community.
  • As a not-for--profit organization, MINDDRIVE aims to create partnerships with corporations that have similar goals, values and community outreach connections.
  • An important aspect of the class is the proprietary student/mentoring program. MINDDRIVE uses a one-on-one mentor to student ratio. Mentors work with the students in educational and socio-economic ways, creating a bonding relationship that is critical to both the learning process and the enhancement of the student’s vision for their future.
  • Steve Rees founded the organization after teaching a class at DeLaSalle Education Center, a charter school in Kansas City for three years. Linda Buchner and Tom Strongman are partners.

The MINDDRIVE car and students participated in Emerging Technology Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The car was on display at the Speedway during the month of May. It is now headed to Pixar Studios for their annual car show on June 24th.

Important Milestones
Headquarters: A permanent facility has been made available by the generosity of the Karbank Real Estate Co. It contains a large work space, a classroom and a computer room. The next step is to equip the space with workbenches, tools and computers. Click here for a list of needed items.nushop.jpg
Union Station/Science City: The car was displayed at Union Station, near Science City, for a week in early March.
AutoWeek: The car was featured in the Jan. 10 edition.
Emerging Technology Day at the Indy 500: The car will participate in the event on May 7 to mark the Centennial Anniversary of the famous race.
MARC: Chosen as one of 2010's Sustainable Success Stories.
City Council Recognition: Students and mentors were recognized for their achievements with the car.
Indy 500: The car was displayed in the Firestone Garage in Gasoline Alley for three weeks last May.
Ford Motor Co.: Hosted two students for a behind-the-scenes tour of digital design.

Testing the car at Bridgestone's Texas Proving Ground
In January, 2010, Steve Rees challenged seven students and 11 mentors to convert a 2000 Lola Indy car to electric power, to design a body for it and to test its efficiency when complete. The group studied aerodynamics, physics and basic automotive technology. They designed a lightweight body covered with a clear plastic 3M material, installed 21 lithium-ion batteries and created a stunningly efficient electric vehicle. The project culminated with a trip to Bridgestone's Texas Proving Ground, where the car recorded a miles-per-gallon equivalency of nearly 300 MPGe. At one point, while cruising at 25 miles per hour, the car achieved an MPGe of 442. Lyrics for the video, above, were created by Zack Knighten, one of the students. The team owes special thanks to Brian Nakonechny, Linda Buchner, Walt Accurso, Bruce Bellington and Lirel Holt for being part of the mentor group in Texas. Kelvin Duley, Zack Knighten and Mario Ramirez were the students who attended. Natalie Fenaroli and her dad Matt have been a major part of the effort as well.
Bridgestone employees Jon Stuckey, Marty Yurjevich, Dennis Snyder, Elizabeth Lewis and Wayne Indorf, track manager, were instrumental in hosting the test, establishing the test procedures and collecting data. The project exceeded expectations and everyone left Texas with a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Worldwide attention

Upon completion of the Texas test, the MINDDRIVE/DeLaSalle car received worldwide attention for its achievment. It was featured on CNN, Yahoo.com, Wired.com, Gizmodo and more than 300 websites worldwide. It also made the Kansas City Star newspaper and two Kansas City television stations.

The Power of a Car to Change Lives
By Tom Strongman
Who knew, back in January when seven students from DeLaSalle high school and 11 mentors huddled around the hulk of a well-used Indy car in a freezing-cold shop, that eight months later our project would be the talk of the country. We were an unlikely group: Young students and adult professionals from widely diverse backgrounds. Our project became one of TRANSFORMATION and VISION.

We had a vision of what we wanted to accomplish but first we had to transform our old racer into a sleek electric car.

We met every Saturday morning. We had classes on aerodynamics, physics and basic automotive terminology. We designed a body by draping the car with sheets of clear plastic. A wire skeleton was covered with shrinkable clear plastic film. It was light weight and surprisingly durable. The skin's transparency became the car's signature.

We learned that by expanding our vision of the future and sticking with the project regardless of bumps in the road, we could have more success than any of us imagined. Our students now have a different vision of their future and many want to attend college.

Mostly what we learned is be there for each other. Despite the differences in our ages and backgrounds, we became a family that loved one another.
Our car is the perfect metaphor for our group. We transformed an old race car, and in the process of expanding our vision of what could be, we too were transformed.
Not only does the car’s skin have no color, but its transparency makes it easy to see what’s inside. And like us, we realize that what’s inside is most important.

All material Copyright MINDDDRIVE 2011