Fascinated by magnets at an early age, Alberto Pinero Jr. was drawn to electrical engineering.
“I knew it was something that I wanted to do, but I wanted something that would basically help drive that feeling,” says the Florida Polytechnic University sophomore from Kissimmee, Fla.
So, as a 10th-grader, Pinero decided to build an electric bicycle.
Though Pinero’s father, Alberto, is an electronics “jack-of-all-trades” who gave his son the foundation for his skills, the teen worked on the bike alone. “I wanted this to be something that I did completely on my own,” he says. “I did everything that comes with building an e-bike from scratch.”
The project took a year, and he primarily relied on forums at endless-sphere.com, a website that features discussions on electric vehicles and technology.
Pinero finished the 1,000-watt e-bike, which was capable of going up to 30 miles per hour, in the 11th grade. He switched out every mechanical component on the bike and optimized it for his riding style. “That was fun for a while, but I wanted a little more power,” he says. Pinero revised the bike, and produced a 3,000-watt version capable of going 40 miles per hour. Eventually, he wanted even more speed so Pinero made a version with 8,000 watts of power that’s able to reach 50 miles per hour in about five seconds. “It’s a lot of fun to ride,” he says.
But Pinero’s mother, Lianabelle, is not as enthusiastic about the speedy bike. “She doesn’t like me riding it,” he says. A fan of extreme sports, Pinero says the main trick he performs on the bike is a wheelie.
It was Pinero’s mother who told him about Florida Poly, rapidly rising as one of the top engineering schools in Florida. Pinero applied to several electrical engineering colleges, but he says factors such as Florida Poly’s generous scholarship offer, amenities and proximity to home made his decision a no-brainer.
The 19-year-old has immersed himself in his studies while pursuing an electrical engineering degree with a concentration in magnetics. He hopes to pursue a career designing brushless electric motors. His e-bike includes a three-phase brushless DC motor. “I didn’t design the motor on my e-bike, but I actually helped in the process on an online forum,” he says.
Brushless motors are used in Tesla vehicles, whose founder, Elon Musk, is an inspiration for Pinero. “I’d like to do similar things in the future.”
In the near future, Pinero aims to build an electric drag-racing motorcycle. “This is going to be a motorcycle that can out-accelerate most cars. The goal for this motorcycle is to beat the fastest stock car in the quarter mile,” he says.
Pinero recently demonstrated his e-bike for University president Dr. Randy K. Avent and a couple of the school’s professors.
“Students like Alberto, who are inspired to explore, invent and solve problems, are exactly the type we look for at Florida Poly,” said Dr. Avent. “If a student has an idea for a project or problem-solving effort and it relates to applied research, technology or engineering, we’ll do what we can to support that effort and make it part of the students’ formal learning experience at the University.”
The demonstration for the e-bike is one of the few appearances the bicycle has made on campus, but Pinero wants it to inspire others.
“I hope it’s something people can look at and say, ‘Oh, I want to do something like that, too."