WARWICK, RI — The Rhode Island Health and Educational Building Corporation (RIHEBC) has closed on a $25,000 Health & Education Loan Program (HELP) loan to the RI Computer Museum for electric kit car projects for local schools.
The RI Computer Museum, a nonprofit at 1755 Bald Hill Road established in 1999 preserve vintage computer history and offer a glimpse of the past. Formerly in North Kingstown, the museum has just settled in at their new Warwick location this month, said Dan Berman, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Computer Museum.
RICM’s mission statement is “procuring and preserving items that relate to computer science and its history; disseminating knowledge, and encouraging research in computer science by means of visits, lectures, discussions, and publications. Inspiring young people for the future workforce by saving old and new technology.
“At the Rhode Island Computer Museum, part of our mission is inspiring young people interested in future careers in computer, science, and technology fields,” said Berman. “This $25,000 HELP loan from RIHEBC will allow us to meet our mission by purchasing F24 Kit Cars, a fun and engaging project-based learning package for young students to learn critical STEM skills while building and racing electric cars. Obtaining traditional bank financing for this program proved challenging, and that is why we are so thankful for RIHEBC’s HELP loan program.”
The 5-year, 6.25% interest loan will allow the museum to purchase and distribute five F24 Kit Cars, electric vehicles to be assembled and then raced by students of all ages as part of a school’s project-based learning / science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum. As schools sign up for and purchase the kits, the museum will use those payments to pay off the loan.
So far, Exteter-West Greenwich, Coventry, Chariho, Lincoln, Bishop Connolly High in Fall River and Norwell High in Massachusetts have purchased kits and participated in the F24 Greenpower Rhode Island program, culminating in a race at held at Ninigret Park, Charlestown, RI.
Berman said the kits typically cost $6,000 and require about five months’ lead time for delivery. However, he said, they’ve used the loan to pay for a preorder of the cars, which are due to arrive in October. That won’t be in time for new schools to participate in the next race Oct. 19, But it will line them up to participate in the May race next year. Interested school districts can contact him by email, [email protected] or by phone at 401-741-6997 to arrange a purchase order.
Berman said the kits have everything students will need to build their own electric car: batteries, motors, and CAD design tools to add their own features. During a recent competition, Chariho constructed a carbon fiber body for their car, he said. Norwell designed a gearbox for theirs.
“So, everyone was going 20 (mph) and theirs was going 30,” Berman said.
About the HELP Loan Program
HELP loans are available to Rhode Island not-for-profit institutions and cities, towns, and school districts. The loans range from $25,000 to $250,000, in terms of 3, 5, 7, or 10 years. Applicants must have been in existence for at least 3 years and have operating revenues of $10 million or less. Not-for-profit examples include mental and physical healthcare providers; child day-care centers and institutions of secondary and post-secondary learning; cultural organizations like museums and performing arts centers; recreational facilities like YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs; and community service providers such as homeless shelters and after-school programs.
“RIHEBC created our HELP loan program to assist Rhode Island’s smaller non-profits and educational organizations obtain financing for projects that meet their missions,” said Kim Mooers, Executive Director of RIHEBC. “We are thrilled that our very first HELP loan will allow the Rhode Island Computer Museum to purchase F24 Kit Cars for school districts across Rhode Island whose students will assemble and race them. What a great hands-on way to learn STEM skills.”
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