Travelling over 2735 km on open road, Western Sydney University has won the solar car endurance tour in America. Story by Abigail Nash.
It is a proud moment for all Western Sydney University students as our university wins an international solar challenge. Science, innovation and endurance is the hallmark of all great universities and we have certainly proven ourselves on the world stage.
Winning against all odds, our Western team was half the size of other teams competing. The team worked their way along the Oregon national historic trail, which is an unforgiving trail heading west along a corridor of hot open plains and steep mountains. Nine gruelling days from 14 – 22 July across Omaha, Nebraska and Oregon. The team experienced similar conditions in the Darwin to Adelaide solar challenge which they had competed in just nine months before.
Students from the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics worked in all aspects of design, sponsorship, marketing, administration, engineering, ICT, industrial design and visual communications. Staff, alumni and sponsors pulled together enough funds and labour to compete against prestigious institutions including MIT, Michigan, Kentucky, Florida, Berkeley, Iowa State, Illinois State, Missouri and the list goes on. Michigan University was funded by Ford and General Motors, making WSU’s win even more impressive.
For the technically minded, the car’s length is 4.60cm, width 1.55m, height 0.90m, and weighs only 158kg. The array is 960W silicon, using 5kwh lithium ion batteries weighing 20kg. It also has a Marand axil flux surface mount motor, and four carbon fibre, 40cm wheels. Other team’s vehicle stats can be viewed and compared at the American Solar Challenge Organisation’s website.
The manager of the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics at WSU, Michael Walsh said: “The race was also physically gruelling for the Western student, alumni and volunteers involved in making sure the car was ready to race each day. Successfully completing the American Solar Challenge is a hugely rewarding accomplishment and has required over a year of intense focus and hard work from every team that entered the race.”
You can also view videos of the 2018 race on the youtube.