The Electric Monkeys: Cool Electric Cars for Everyone (CECE)
A non-profit organization to advance the learning and maker-spirit for DIY electric vehicle conversions.
The Electric Monkeys club logo
Our first electric conversion donor - a 1972 VW Camper Van.
Eligibility: Please confirm you meet all the following criteria
You are aged between 14 - 18 as of August 1, 2020
You live in the United States or its territories
You are not employed by, or directly related (grand parents, parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
You have been working on this project for at least three months
You consent to us possibly featuring your work on social media
You confirm you have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form
Eligibility: Date of Birth
December 29, 2003
What gender do you identify with?
Help us stay in touch!
16 Silversmith Lane
Connecticut: Redding (06896)
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
The site is registered and hosted with content under development as the project progresses. The expected go-live is at the end of Summer, 2020.
Date You Started Your Project Started
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
The problem is that we should not wait for the future adoption of more efficient cars to measure impact. We have to consider the “now” and near future. The impact we can have from new sales of electric cars needs to be matched with the high volume of aging cars and the limited means low-income earners will have for replacement. We need to promote an affordable and practical solution to address the millions of vehicles on the road today.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Our goal is to create an educational on-line resource to explain everything you need to know for converting a vehicle from a combustion engine to electric. We will use a 1972 VW bus as our example and provide detailed write-ups, photos, and videos of the process from beginning to end. We will develop all the educational resources to make it possible for virtually anyone to complete their own electric vehicle conversion. We hope our site will become a virtual club for projects around the world and a resource for all skill levels to ask questions and share knowledge.
Our plan to solve the problem is to promote, enable, and directly contribute to the electric conversion of vehicles at our school, community, and beyond. Our site will be hosted at www.electricmonkeys.org. We will launch the site by September 2020.
3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.
Although STEM provides the invention and innovation for solving environmental challenges, the full effect is only possible when people commit to change. This change can be very difficult to influence when it affects our daily lives and routines. Our use of transportation is among the most significant lifestyle routines with little room for compromise. Our project is about influencing people to make changes for the future. We are asking them to make a change that can benefit them and contribute to environmental sustainability.
4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
We are committed to clean energy and the environment and 'dreamed up' this project to show our passion. We are certainly not experts on EV conversions but that's the point - if we can do it, anyone can. We know we can learn what we need. We know how hard we are willing to work. Here are some of our favorite inspirational stories:
Race the Sun, loosely based on the true story of the Konawaena High School Solar Car Team
Spare Parts (Book, Documentary, Movie)
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Book, Movie)
5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”
6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.
We have our first donor vehicle! This enabled us to complete the research and project planning to layout our approach and schedule. We’ve worked hard to develop the learning materials and step-by-step instructions to complete the installation. We have the specifications and costing for all parts and components. Our next step is to complete our first build this summer to produce all the supporting video content to complete the learning materials.
7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Our project is not a technical innovation. It is intended to inspire a social movement that will have an environmental impact by bringing clean energy technology to application that can benefit anyone. Our goal is to break the boundaries of cost and complexity. To motivate students, car enthusiasts, and DIYers to take on a project.
8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?
How do we plan on making a difference? This is our vision for inspiring change. As the only vintage VW van in the area, it will attract attention. It travels daily to school. It’s parked at the grocery store where we work. It’s a team bus for an away game. It’s a fan bus for our home games. Everywhere it goes it leaves an impression. But the attention is not only for its famous styling and hippie surf culture. Then they see the motor is exposed by a panel of plexiglass. It’s electric! Who’s next?
9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Phase 1: We have big plans for the next three months. Using the summer months when we have the most time to take on the toughest part of the project, we will complete the conversion of our 1971 VW Camper Bus. After this phase, we reach two key milestones: launching our website and forum;
a fully functional electric vehicle for daily commuting
Phase 2: Following the bus conversion, we will be completing the same for a classic pickup truck, resulting in two conversions to show proof of the possibilities. Our milestones will be: enhancing the website content; seed investment for our high school program to take on additional conversions.
By the end of this year, we hope to have a thriving local and on-line community.
10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.
It’s not hard to appeal to teenagers when it comes to cars, especially if they are “cool”. But asking anyone to take responsibility for environmental sustainability is a difficult challenge. It’s often inconvenient. It’s often costly. It often requires a sacrifice. Our approach is to combine the appeal of cool cars with the benefit of an environmentally sustainable solution. In order to do this, we have to prove it. We have to do it. We have to show others that they can do it too.
11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?
We hope our web site serves as a network for school clubs, youth groups, and other organizations. A
community forum will enable us all to share stories, tips, and ask questions. We hope to sponsor conversion challenges, e.g. Rust Bucket Challenge; Farm Truck Revival; EV Jamboree. Lastly, we hope the success of the community motivates industry sponsors and experts to get involved.
12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?
Our initial strategy is to initiate a “Parking Lot to Planet” grassroots movement. We start local, we build one. We build another. This inspires more and more. A few becomes many. We hope our local impact becomes an example for others nationally and internationally. Following this approach the “buy-in” is earned and proven.
13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Reference 1: Kelly Masi, Senior State’s Attorney ( High School Mock Trial Coach )
Reference 2: Shannon Horosky, Field Hockey Coach
Reference 3: Jason Bellone, father
Phone Number: 917.574.7242
Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community
How did you hear about this challenge?