Automotive X PRIZE competitor Illuminati Motor Works Q & A

George Kennedy is 65 years old, married with two grown children. A Licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer in the State of Illinois; George was a Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force serving as an Administrative Specialist form 1967-1969. In 971 earning his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the U of I. From 1971-1973 he worked as an Engineering Technician for the Department of General Services. George then went to work for Fiat-Allis, CMI, from 1973 thru 1980. While at Fiat he performed design, layout, and calculations of various power train and hydraulic components for earth-moving equipment. From 1980-1999 he worked for Ameren Services/Central Illinois Public Service Company 20 as a Gas Supply Engineer responsibilities included planning natural gas purchasing and pipeline usage, coordinating load controls and other engineering functions. Moving on to Cochran & Wilken Inc., Consulting Engineers & Scientists, where from late 1999 to early 2004 he provided engineering design of HVAC and plumbing systems primarily for large square footage commercial buildings. September 2004 to the present, George has worked for the Illinois Environmental Protection Engineer where he is responsible for in-depth engineering analysis of permit application received, by the Division of Air Pollution Control; George has put his vast engineering experience to work and taken over the CAD and business plan portions of the project.

Nathan Knappenbuger is 33 years old, married with 1.5 children (soon to be two). Specializing in electrical systems integration, Nathan earned an associates degree from ITT in applied science in electrical engineering technology. Currently employed as a systems technician at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield IL. He is responsible for design and installation of audio video presentation systems. From 1996-1999 he was in the U.S. Air Force responsible for electronics of the F-16. Additionally he has experience with fiberglass and other composites from experience with the Glass used in aircraft. Nathan is responsible for selection and integration of power electronics and programming of controllers and electrical subsystems for the vehicle.

3. Is this your first vehicle building competition?


Yes, this is the first car I have ever helped to build.


No, I’ve worked on and built: solar, hybrid, natural gas, electric and many other alternatively fueled vehicles over the years including entries for the 1995 Hybrid Electric Vehicle Challenge and the 1996 Future Car Challenge, a PNGV competition.


I’ve worked on more than a few vehicles over the years, I’ve never built an electric vehicle or a ground up vehicle but the components are mostly the same as any existing consumer vehicle and I’ve worked on, fixed, rebuilt, and overhauled thousands of them.


Just some “tinkering” on cars compared to Thomas but I’ve dug into and rebuilt and modded out a couple motorcycles.


My wife was surprised when I came home dirty…this is really the first hands on building experience I’ve had, all my previous experience is behind the desk which has come in pretty useful for getting the CAD drawings done.

4. During the concept phase what types of vehicles did you consider building? What power and fuel sources were discussed? Why did the team end up choosing an all electric car?


We have discussed about all of the fuel and power sources repeatedly. Electric cars meet the needs of 95% of people if they are honest with themselves. Another reason we chose electric is you cannot beat the efficiency in fuel cost and maintenance cost.