Written by Ian Edwards, Brightergy
“Scotty, I’m taking the solar-powered car for a spin.” That’s something you’ve probably never heard on Star Trek. Or anywhere for that matter.
A solar-powered car may sound like something straight out of science fiction, but to people familiar with the American Solar Challenge (ASC), it’s actually old news. For over 20 years, engineering students from universities around the globe have been hitting the road in the ASC cross-country race – and on Friday, they made a stop at Black and Veatch in Overland Park.
This year’s race started in Austin, Texas. 17 teams trekked from the Lone Star State with their sights set on the finish line in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The course, which is broken up into several different legs, takes contestants over 1700 miles across seven states in eight days.
Of the original 17, only eight teams remained to pull out of Black and Veatch Friday morning heading up Highway 75 to Omaha. I was lucky enough to catch up with Iowa State’s “Team PrISUm” who held the third place spot heading into the Nebraska leg.
“We call it a lifestyle,” said mechanical engineering major Dylan Neal, “because we spend so much time on this project, it really becomes a part of us.” And he wasn’t kidding. Neal has been working towards this day since he first stepped on campus in Ames a year ago. Other members have been working even longer.
From designing new components to test races, PrISUm has spent thousands of hours working towards this day. And with their solar car “Phaeton” sitting pretty in the top three, it’s hard to argue with the results.
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