Solar Car Finishes Seventh in the world
On October 30, Principia College’s solar car, Ra7, finished seventh in the 2009 World Solar Challenge, a grueling 3,000-kilometer race across the Outback from Darwin to Adelaide, Australia. The 6-day event was one of two race categories comprising the Global Green Solar Challenge. Among Principia’s internationally diverse competition was University of Michigan, MIT, NUON Solar Team of the Netherlands, Sakaraya University from Turkey, and Cambridge University representing the United Kingdom. In total, 32 teams started the race (others were disqualified before the race began), but only 10 teams completed the course. The winning vehicle, built by Tokai University of Japan, was sponsored by Sharp Electronics. The No. 2 finisher, Nuna V, was sponsored by the European Space Agency.
“Considering the level of competition, we were pleased and grateful to finish in the top ten,” said Principia faculty advisor and Assistant Dean of Academics Joe Ritter. “These are the best teams in the world. MIT and Michigan have more graduate-level engineering candidates than Principia College has students.” In addition to its strong finish, Principia’s team won the much-coveted Safety Award. “That’s a big deal,” says Ritter. “This award is given for the most comprehensive and complete safety plan, submitted on time and implemented meticulously.”
A variety of issues—dust storms, a shipping crate accident during the solar car’s journey to Australia, emergency roadside stops, and numerous other routine and not-so-routine incidents—gave team members plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their reliance on God and remain steadfast in their goal of glorifying God and doing their best. Summarizing the race, Ritter said, “This may have been our most difficult race ever, but it provided an opportunity for the team to apply its understanding of God and to demonstrate excellence.”
Learn more about the team’s race activities and experiences in the Outback.