December 2, 2016

Solar Car Team Prepares for Competition

Solar Car Team Prepares for Competition
July 7, 2011

After briefly basking in the pleasure of a strong showing at the 2009 World Solar Challenge (WSC) in Australia, Principia’s solar car team got busy preparing for this fall’s WSC, also in Australia.

Improvements to Ra 7s, the car, have been extensive. As team member Garrett Fielding explains, “Our most notable accomplishment has been rebuilding the body of the car. Because World Solar Challenge regulations changed, . . . we switched [from gallium arsenide] to silicon solar cells to maintain our six-square-meter array. Instead of removing the old solar cells, we decided to rebuild the car using a better process and saving weight wherever possible. This has been a yearlong process.”

Next, the car was prepped for a fresh coat of paint and then taken to Lyerla Industries, a professional body shop in Alton. There, team members applied several coats of paint (sanding and buffing between coats) and a protectant and shine agent—all under the expert tutelage of the shop’s owner.

Once back on campus, Ra 7s received a new windshield, front and back turn signals, a newly milled steering column, a battery box, and a new seat that provides the driver a few centimeters more room (every little bit helps!).

Even with all that progress, however, there was more to do, so several team members (most of whom will travel to Australia) are working on the car this summer. Among other things, they’re assembling the battery pack, putting the array on the car, and road-testing it—an important step for both car and driver.

Ra 7s ships to Australia at the end of July, team members follow a couple of months later, and the race begins October 16. As you might expect, the eight students on the race team can hardly wait!

Go here to get Google updates, read recent Twitter posts, and sign up for the team’s Twitter feed.

  • Clay Ford

    This fascinates me to no end! Not bad for a Bio-Sci major, eh. I think it’s really great that these students from a small liberal arts college can go toe-to-toe with the big boys. I know that the Prin team will be blessed to do well this year

    Clay Ford

    • Sharon Jacobsen

      I agree!!  It was so much fun being able to be at the finish line in Clairemont, CA about 8 years ago when the Prin Solar car came across.  We had family and church members from San Diego area there. We are so proud of the team and college!  Sharon Jacobsen, Oceanside, CAnn1

  • Gjasp67

    Thanks to the Principia Club of Austin, TX, their annual summer picnic in Wimberly had the added enjoyment of a visit from the Principia Solar Car and three of its team members.  What a fascinating experience to see the car up close and to learn from a very patient and informative crew about the new car, as well as past competitions.   The successes of the solar team are just what I would expect from the Principia experience.  My husband and I thank all those involved in giving us such a wonderful opportunity.  We look forward to October and following the 2011 journey! 

    Ginny Smith Jasperse C 63