OSU Engineering Students Chasing the Sun in 2015

By Dave DeLuca

SolarCarThe OSU Solar Vehicle Team has been around for a decade and has been profiled in these pages before. Now they have a unique opportunity to share their successful experience: they have been invited to participate in the first Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge to be held in January. The invite is due in large part to their recent success in this year’s Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) and American Solar Challenge (ASC). 

The FSGP is a track race which rewards teams for completing the most laps in three days. OSU came in second to the University of Michigan (UM). One hundred twenty-four laps were completed by our squad, just 40 laps short of UM. ASC is a five-stage road race spanning over 1,700 miles from Austin, Texas to St. Paul, Minnesota. The Beavers finished in sixth place. Just over six hours separated the third- and sixth-place finishing team’s times. In the world of solar vehicle racing, that’s almost the equivalent of a photo finish. 

The Abu Dhabi Challenge will be unlike any competition the team has participated in before. Eight OSU students will be teaming up with eight university students from the United Arab Emirates. The OSU solar vehicle will be shipped to the Middle East for the competition and the Beaver engineering students will serve as mentors to their Arab counterparts, sharing the club’s knowledge from the last decade. Together, the combined team will participate in both a track race and a 1,200-kilometer cross country race. 

Faculty advisor David O’Gorman commented on the value students will gain from the trip, and from being on the team. 

“This sort of experience is really what makes a graduate stand out from anyone else with an engineering degree. These people know what it’s like to engineer things in the real world. It makes all of the difference in the world in terms of their education and their employability.”

Event organizers will be picking up some of the OSU team’s tab, but the club is always fundraising. In addition to the upcoming Abu Dhabi competition, the team is raising funds to build a second solar vehicle for the 2015 World Solar Challenge in Australia. 

For more information on the team, go to www.facebook.com/osusvt. Donations to the team can be made through the OSU Foundation at www.osufoundation.org.