26th May, 2020

Ljubljana, April 30th 2020 – Shortly before the closure of schools and companies due to the spread of coronavirus, students of the Waldorf Gymnasium in Ljubljana, in collaboration with GEM motors, successfully tested Eltrak, an electric snowmobile, designed for the preparation and grooming of cross-country ski tracks. This is a demanding and complex project, which goes beyond the size and complexity of regular school projects.

Press release (Slo

Based on the initiative of the director of the Waldorf Gymnasium in Ljubljana, Mr. Iztok Kordiš, students started developing the project in 2016 within the subject “Practical Artistic Design”, in collaboration with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, some parents, external associates and companies. The completion of the project is scheduled for the next school year. Due to the complexity of the project and involvement of different partners, a lot of extra work has been done outside regular classes, also on weekends and during holidays. The current development phase of the project is a one-track prototype vehicle with built-in electric drive and batteries, which is already fully functional and intended for testing.

VIDEO of the test is available below.

If you motivate young people in the right way, they are creative beyond official school schedules.

“Teachers at Waldorf school wanted to find a way to channel boys’ energy into creative work and stimulate their interest. Despite the incredible technological development, we have been noticing difficulties in awakening curiosity and desire of young people during puberty for discovering new things. The desire for knowledge, practical experience and the opportunity to cooperate with the industry encouraged students to invest their time and energy in the development of the project even outside of the school schedule, ” emphasizes Mr. Iztok Kordiš, director of Waldorf Gymnasium and adds: “We experienced a major breakthrough in development last year when we partnered with GEM motors, which has just completed the development of its innovative fully-integrated electrical motor, based on a patented modular multiphase technology. Through this innovation we were able to successfully fulfil our vision, which of course is focused on functionality and environmental protection. I am convinced that after returning to school, our project will continue and will be even further refined and closer to its final design next year. Fostering creativity, self-confidence and hands-on experience in teamwork are important factors in the development of every adolescent.”

Young people’s innovation brings added value to companies

“Companies that don’t work with young people are missing out on an important opportunity for progress. At GEM motors, we were excited about the students’ initiative for a new project and responded immediately. A high-tech company must always be ready for fresh solutions, our work is innovation and we can learn a lot from young people. The Eltrak project is most certainly a remarkable proof of what young people can achieve and where teachers should invest their energy to pay off: in creative solutions that are environmentally and humanly friendly at the same time. Of course the real innovation proves itself in real-life and the market tells you how much new knowledge and development is worth,” emphasizes Simon Mandelj, PhD, director of GEM motors in Kamnik and adds: “The current health crisis has already an effect on the economic crisis. Especially smaller technological companies will have to quickly adapt to the new situation, because we depend on investing in modern development and technology and on international collaborations. Therefore, in the upcoming months, we will have to be innovative not only in the development of electric in-wheel motors, but also in our next business moves and in the search of new business opportunities. Innovation drives the progress and we wish to develop that mindset especially in young people. “

The development of the project was divided into three parts: hardware part, electrical part and work with composite materials. Eltrak consists of two battery powered caterpillars, a motor controller, an electric motor, a transmission system, a cabin, and different attachments (a snow plow, a snow thrower). At the end of February, it was successfully tested by students at Soriška planina, in collaboration with GEM motors. The vehicle proved to be lightweight, nible and powerful enough to be able to handle tracks even in the harshest conditions.

Keywords: eltrak, waldorf gymnasium, gem motors, team work, innovative, projects, electric, snowmobile