College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Solar car group relies on continuous sponsorships

Solar Car Group

Building new solar-powered cars and taking them to competitions and outreach events around Iowa and the US takes a lot of dedication and work, not to mention financial assistance. That’s why Team PrISUm depends on sponsorships and donations to maintain its successful program.

One of the team’s biggest sponsors, the Iowa Energy Center, has been contributing funds to the solar car group for more than 15 years.

“Iowa Energy Center is the key financial support to the team’s yearly outreach campaign, which is a big part of what we are as an organization,” said Joel Eakins, president of Team PrISUm. As a senior in accounting, he doesn’t have the engineering background so often associated with the team, but he understands the business and finance side of the successful student group.

And this year, the team needs the sort of focus Eakins offers to ensure it can meet its goals.

“The previous project had a budget of $250,000,” Eakins said. “I have estimated we’ll need $500,000 for our current project because we need to replace our 15-year-old motors.”

Eakins said a large portion of the budget comes in the form of service and product donations, but outreach events and other activities require money. Aside from the costs associated with the actual car, funds are raised for race entry fees, vehicle rentals, food and lodging for team members, and travel expenses.

The team also hopes to add a new event to their summer plans in the next few years. In addition to participating in the Formula Sun Grand Prix track race each year, Team PrISUm wants to race the new car in the World Solar Challenge in Australia in 2017.

An international race will involve travel and lodging for 16 team members and shipping the car. Eakins said he hasn’t figured up the expenses yet, but he knows they have a lot of work to do.

Team PrISUm is open to students of all majors and Eakins is looking to get more business students on the team to help with the budget and other majors to boost the non-engineering elements of the group, such as event planning.

The group does not have a committee specifically for recruitment, but Eakins explained that recruiting is a team-wide endeavor at the beginning of each semester.

Team PrISUm has about 20 students continuously working on various projects, with a few dozen more who are slightly less involved until the older members graduate. “They generally transition into the core group as older members leave, keeping a good cycle of talent flowing through the team,” said Eakins.

Anyone interested in joining the team or learning more about it can visit their website to find contact and sponsorship information.