Community Papers

FACE TO FACE: Fast Times at Delta Secondary

DSS shop teacher Casey Mynott with his class’s electric junior dragster.  - Rob Newell photo
DSS shop teacher Casey Mynott with his class’s electric junior dragster.
— image credit: Rob Newell photo

Delta Secondary School teacher Casey Mynott’s automotive shop would make any gear head jealous, so it’s no wonder his classes have become so popular with students there. From the ventilated paint room, to the parts washer, to the half dozen hoists, there’s very little difference between this functioning classroom and a professional automotive shop. Except of course, for the fact that no shop in Canada has ever produced the kinds of vehicles Mynott’s students have.

In Sept. 2011, Mynott and his students debuted their first electric vehicle: a Toyota pickup truck capable of running the quarter-mile in 12 seconds.

“All good automotive programs have a drag racer project, but we wanted to do something different,” he says. “To most people, electric cars are golf carts. But I wanted to get the kids interested in the technology.”

Of course, Mynott had never built a drag racer before, let alone an electric one.

“I tell [the students] that if a person built something, and you’re a person, you can build that too,” he says. “As long as you’re willing to take the time to understand how things work”

This year, Mynott’s students are preparing to race their electric junior dragster, El Zapato, at Mission Raceway. The pint-sized land rocket features a state-of-art custom lithium battery pack weighing just 60 pounds, but capable of supplying close to 450 horsepower to the dragster’s electric motor.

“It is the world’s most powerful junior dragster,” says Mynott, adding that it will never be run fully-powered up for safety reasons. “This is pretty cutting edge.”

Despite the ambitious projects he and his students take on, like many shop teachers, Mynott is not a ticketed tradesperson.

“I was the kid in high school that was way into science, always taking stuff apart to see how it works,” he says. “I was into everything cars, but also digital design, and computer programming.”

Mynott  studied chemistry at SFU, but in his final year of his bachelor’s program, he decided he had enough.

“I started to really hate what I was doing,” he said. “I was more interested in working hands-on, manipulating my own environment.”

So he decided instead to attend BCIT shop teacher’s program, and in 2006, came to Delta Secondary School to take over their automotive program.

Mynott says projects like the electric vehicles help keep his students interested in automotive technology. But without the financial support of the community, none of it would be possible he notes.

“We’ve had lots of support from the school, the parents, local businesses here in Ladner, the whole community basically,” he says. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

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