Solar car team going in new direction

Abbie Moeller

Change is the theme this year for Iowa State’s Team PrISUm.

The solar car team is searching for a design for its Sunrayce 99 entry, PrISUm Phoenix.

“We are looking for a newer, sportier look for the car … to help us put a little more flash into the car,” said Brian Moorhead, systems integration director for Team PrISUm and senior in electrical engineering.

He said an eye-catching car will boost team spirit and make people take notice of the Phoenix amidst the plethora of competing teams.

A paint design contest open to anyone is being held for the PrISUm Phoenix, and entry packets can be picked up in Room 110 of Marston Hall.

Moorhead said the team is hoping for contributions from the artistic talent throughout the ISU community and across the state.

“There are so many different concepts of what a solar car should look like,” said Allen Ihlefeld, project director for Team PrISUm and senior in industrial engineering.

Ideas will be accepted until Sept. 30 at 2 p.m., and a winner will be chosen sometime in October. Moorhead said the winner will receive a Team PrISUm T-shirt and a photo of the finished car.

Sunrayce takes place every two years to give teams adequate time to improve their cars, and Moorhead said the Phoenix has undergone many improvements beyond cosmetic changes.

Major structural changes have been made to PrISUm Phoenix this year because the race will run from north to south along the East Coast, he said.

“We have completely redesigned the car because it’s a much different race,” Moorhead said.

Many considerations go into designing a solar car, and Team PrISUm has members working on everything from aerodynamics and electrical systems to ergonomics and fundraising.

“Designing the car is a pretty tough challenge,” Ihlefeld said. “You have to think about what could possibly break and design around it.” He also mentioned that the cars go through a close, strict scrutiny before being allowed in the race.

The race has a 40-car limit, but that has not been reached in any of the previous four years because the many cars could not pass inspection. Ihlefeld said the cars are getting better every year, and he thinks the limit may be reached this year.

“We’ve been in every race so far,” Ihlefeld said.

Because of the diverse needs of the team, students in all majors are encouraged to join. Moorhead said they look for someone who “is willing to learn and doesn’t mind getting dirty once in a while.”

He said being a Team PrISUm member requires dedication, but valuable work experience and skills can also be gained.

At Sunrayce 97, Team PrISUm received awards for sportsmanship, team work and persistence, and it is looking to improve on its 26th-place finish.

“Our goal is to win the race,” Ihlefeld said.

More information on the design contest and the team is available by writing to [email protected] or looking at the team Web site,