Solar Car team shines bright despite rain on Thursday

Andria Homewood

The rain seemed to move out just in time for Iowa State Solar Car team, Team PrISUm, to hold an event today on the Campanile’s lawn.

The event began as people were mingling and talking together about the car and the event. There was even some talk about the secret that people hoped they’d get an answer to: the mystery behind the team going to Australia in 2017.

After everyone got their share of cookies and water, they all huddled around small tables to watch the car be unveiled.

Two members pulled the red cover off the car and what was unveiled was the solar car that the team will be racing this summer at the American Solar Challenge which will start in Brecksville, Ohio and end in Hot Springs, South Dakota. The race begins on July 30 and ends August 6. This car was not however, be the one they’d be taking to Australia. 

This car was named “Phaeton 2” after it’s predecessor, “Phaeton” which won first place at the Formula Sun Grand Prix in 2015.

The car has been completely revamped and is more aerodynamic, said Matt Goode, senior in materials engineering and the project director for Team PrISUm. The team was able to upgrade their 15 year old electric motor with a new one that is 95 percent efficient.

Team PrISUm will drive from Ohio to South Dakota on traditional highway roads in various weather conditions said Emmanuel Agba, professor in mechanical engineering and adviser for Team PrISUm.

“It was a challenge to build a car suitable for all environments,” Agba said.

While this was a small event of about 50 people, some well known faces were around including Sarah Rajala, dean of the College of Engineering.

“[This is] an exciting event,” Rajala said. “It’s a wonderful way to represent Iowa State … I’m extremely supportive [of the team].”

After all the pictures were taken of the sleek, new car, the team announced the name of the car that they will be building and driving in Australia.

Announced as “Penumbra”, PrISUm’s Australian machine will seat four people, have places for team members to charge their phones and will include ample room to store their supplies for a week long race through the Australian outback.

“We’re going to take that next step into changing the world,” said Dylan Neal, senior in mechanical engineering and assistant project director for Team PrISUm. “We’re going to show the world what Iowa can do, what the United States can do, what Iowa State can do.”

Along with some big names around the university, the mayor of Ames, Ann Campbell joined the event.

“It’s important that students get international experience,” Campbell said.

After awards were given to the College of Engineering and the City of Ames, some members from Team PrISUm were given awards for their hard work and dedication. Finally, Dr. James Hill was given recognition for being with the solar car team since it’s beginning 27 years ago.

The event ended with people crowding around the car, getting pictures with it and the team members as well as a Q&A session.

Team PrISUm will have a separate event in 2017 to unveil the car that they will be taking to Australia.