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Formula Sun Grand Prix Challenges Student Solar Cars

Formula Sun Grand Prix Challenges Student Solar Cars

Image source: americansolarchallenge.org

The next wave of innovation in solar power and electric vehicles is powered, in part, by the work that students put into designing and building their entries to events such as this upcoming one, the Formula Sun Grand Prix.

Solar car competitions have been happening since 1990, with the GM Sunrayce USA, and thanks to the Innovators Educational Foundation (IEF), has continued build with their milestone events, the American Solar Challenge and the Formula Sun Grand Prix.

IEF, which is the non-profit organization behind North America’s collegiate-level solar racing in North America, states that these races are meant to inspire and challenge:

“The American Solar Challenge and the Formula Sun Grand Prix is a unique learning experience that challenges students from higher education to develop an original design solution that addresses areas of energy management, transportation, and high tech materials. The cross country race provides a great outreach activity to inspire people from all walks of life while celebrating the success of so many of our future scientists and engineers. The vehicles developed allow for further outreach opportunities with students from K – 12 that will hopefully inspire more young people to seek careers in these critical fields of study.”

The Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) consists of two distinct parts, the “scrutineering”, where all vehicles are inspected for safety and adherence to the race specs and regulations before they are allowed to race, and then there’s the actual racing, or “raycing”, which is a three-day endurance event.

During the solar raycing, each team tries to complete as many laps of the course during the designated driving hours (9am to 5pm), while also managing their energy use by optimizing the limited time available for charging before and after hours. The winner of the event is the team with the most laps completed over the course of the three days, favoring the endurance factor, but an award is also given to the team with the single fastest lap.

This year, the FSGP is being run at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin TX, from June 24th to Saturday, June 29th. The event is completely free and open to the public, so if you’re in the area, head over there and see some of our future designers, builders, and engineers in action.

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