ISU Solar Car Team to make longest journey yet


Photo: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State Daily

Project director Evan Stumpges, right, and assistant project director Dakota Morgan of PrISUm stand between the the last solar car the team made and the one in progress on Sunday, Jan. 22, in “Old” Sweeney Hall. The team will be competing against other student solar car teams with the new car in the 2012 Formula Sun Grand Prix in July.

Madeline Wilhelm

Team PrISUm, Iowa State’s solar car team, has been working to put the finishing touches on this year’s car. In July, the team will be participating in a three-week solar car race from Rochester, N.Y., to St. Paul, Minn., its longest journey yet.

PrISUm races every two years, allowing one year for design and one year for construction between the competitions. Racing against solar car teams from across the world on a new route will be a challenge, but the advances the team has made in the electrical and mechanical systems of the car have put them in a good place.

“I think we’ve got a good shot at being in the top four,” said project director Evan Stumpges, senior in mechanical engineering. The club will take 10 to 15 members on the trip to New York for the start of the race. The competition starts at the Monticello Motor Club with a three-day inspection and a race on the private racetrack. After this, the crew will depart from Rochester on the open public highways and roads for the main part of the race. The route they will be taking is, in part, designed by Wade Johanns, a former member of the ISU Solar Car Team.

Started in 1989, the team has continued to improve its expertise in the solar car field.

Dakota Morgan, assistant project director, said the team has “upgraded and improved on every aspect of the car.” He said they have a well-rounded team this year, with people specializing in almost every aspect of the car. This means the expectations are high.

The team is ahead of schedule, and members hope to use this extra time to work out the kinks and take the car on test runs around the state of Iowa. Although they are ahead of schedule, Stumpges pointed out that there is still much work to be done.

“We’ve got to build this car by the end of the semester, and we can use all the help we can get,” he said. “Any student from any major can help.”

The team aims to improve the efficiency and reliability of the car with as few stops on the side of the road as possible. This will give them a competitive edge.

“We’re pretty optimistic right now,” Stumpges said about the race.

There is a lot of work to still be done, but Morgan noted that it is well worth it.

“My favorite part is being able to apply my knowledge and actually build [the car],” he said.

The Solar Car Team is a real world application of the knowledge they have learned in their classes, and team members are excited to show the world what they know.