By Dave DeLuca
The OSU Solar Vehicle Team got its first taste of international competition last month. On Jan. 15, the tight-knit group drove their pride and joy, The Phoenix, through a 45-lap qualifying race in the United Arab Emirates. The solar car earned a spot in a three-day, 1,200-kilometer cross country road challenge. When the competition was over, OSU had come in 12th overall.
The final lap took place on Jan. 18, and coincided with the beginning of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. A who’s-who of world leaders was in attendance, including the president of Egypt, the prime minister of the UAE, and our own Al Gore.
The trip was as educational for the students as it was competitive. According to faculty advisor David O’Gorman, “This experience has taught the members of the team everything from logistics to the importance of reliable design and the real-world application of engineering principles.”
The team was on a tight schedule and had little time for sightseeing, but took home plenty of special memories from the exotic land. O’Gorman provided a beautiful example: “The team had a chance to see everything from herds of camels to oasis towns, to a trip around a royal palace. We even had an amazing opportunity to meet some camel herders.”
What’s next for these young engineers? For one thing, a new car will be designed to meet increasingly rigorous race requirements. The new version may even include the ability to carry passengers. I wonder if they would be willing to bring me along on their next trip if I promised not to backseat drive.