2015 Unveil | Aurum

Photo by EPIK Studios

Photo by EPIK Studios

It's finally here.

It has been 642 days since the 2013 World Solar Challenge came to a close. Despite a devastating crash during the race, our team still managed to pull of a top-ten finish after spending all night repairing Generation, our team's 12th vehicle. From the day the race ended, our team has been hard at work to bring the world something better. Something faster. Something that breaks down all the records that have been set already.

We are excited to show the world what have made possible.

This morning, we unveiled our team's 13th vehicle, Aurum. With a sleek new aerobody, and top knotch electrical and mechanical systems, Aurum is the ultimate electric vehicle.

An asymmetrical catamaran body designed by the team's Aerodynamics Division is projected to be more aerodynamic than any vehicle that our team has ever produced, including three-wheel designs, and designs allowing the driver to be in a much more laid-down position. The power losses from the electrical system has been minimized through innovative design. The mechanical systems have been optimized for weight reduction and an increase in overall strength and reliability. Every aspect of our designs have gone through countless iterations to produce this icon of sustainable engineering.

Green energy is the future, and although our design is still far from the average electric vehicle, it is one step closer to becoming your daily ride. A change in the regulations for the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge requires the charging of the vehicle to not use any external stands, and our new car incorporates a charging stand into the body of the vehicle that can be adjusted for finding the optimal charging angle.

Another major change in design is more visually apparent in the car's race configuration. On the drivers side, the body of the car follows the lines of the driver's shoulder, and blends the chassis and the lower body's shape together to form the outside wall. The canopy's smooth lines are dictated in size by a carbon fiber roll cage inside that protects the driver from impact, and allows us to minimize the height from not needing additional area that a metal roll cage would take up. The main airfoil's thickness is slimmer than ever before.

The next step is to prove Aurum's capabilities at the World Solar Challenge. We have built a car, and we are building a team that will be ready to win the world. We are just over 3 months out from the start of the race, and there is still much work to be done, but we wouldn't be the University of Michigan Solar Car Team if we weren't up for the challenge. 

Stay connected with the team via Facebook, Twitter, and umsolar.com.


Unveil 2015 | Speakers

We are less than 12 hours out from sharing our new car with everyone, and we have quite the line-up to introduce you to Aurum.

From our Platinum Level sponsors, to our number one fan, we bring you our 2015 Unveil Speakers.


Patricia E. Mooradian
The Henry Ford

Patricia E. Mooradian began her career at The Henry Ford in 2000 as Vice President & Chief Operating Officer; becoming President in 2005. She leads the development, articulation and promotion of a clear vision and strategic plan for THF and ensures excellence in the daily operation, exhibition, program development and delivery, and maintenance for all THF venues. She raises local and national awareness and appreciation of THF as the nation’s premier history destination. In addition to positioning THF as a leading national institution, she also raises contributed funds for general operating support, programs, endowment and capital projects. Prior to joining The Henry Ford, Mooradian was Regional Marketing Director for The Taubman Company overseeing the marketing strategic plan development, and brand management of regional shopping destinations across the country.


David C. Munson, Jr.
Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering
University of Michigan

David Munson received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware and the M.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Princeton University. Prior to Michigan, he was on the electrical and computer engineering faculty at the University of Illinois. Professor Munson’s research is focused on signal processing issues in imaging systems, especially synthetic aperture radar. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a past president of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, founding editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, and co-founder of the IEEE International Conference on Image Processing.


Jeffrey M. Brennan
Chief Marketing Officer


As Chief Marketing Officer and Senior VP of Global Markets, Brennan has responsibility for corporate, business marketing, communications, public relations, web marketing and strategy in major market segments.
Since joining Altair in 1992, he has served a variety roles, including Program Manager for Altair’s optimization products, Director of Sales & Marketing, and VP of the HyperWorks business unit and was responsible for the creation of the OptiStruct software. His background includes specialties in biomechanics and optimization, receiving his engineering education at the University of Notre Dame, Northwestern University and the University of Michigan.


Chris Selwood
Event Director
Bridgestone World Solar Challenge

Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Event Director Chris Selwood is an electrical engineer by training but he is not known as one to follow a conventional path. Born in the UK he spent much of his early working life as a production manager for movies, and later in event management, travelling the world.
He fell in love with the Australian bush and in 1991 chose to call South Australia home. Since then he has managed the logistics and operations of some of Australia’s most notable outdoor, adventure events. Chris’s journey to the World Solar Challenge came about through his passion for this planet and his unflagging interest in alternative energy and sustainable transport. When he met the World Solar Challenge’s founder, Danish adventurer Hans Tholstrup, in 1990, he was hooked. He was first involved as a volunteer and by 1999 was running the event.
As the world’s largest event of its kind Chris faces many technical and logistical challenges. An ongoing challenge is to keep the playing field level giving competitors the opportunity to shine, regardless of budget and to evolve regulations to keep up with technology and encourage innovation.
His ultimate goal? That the World Solar Challenge will inspire the bright young people of the planet to create world’s first truly sustainable motor vehicle and, by so doing, make a major contribution in the quest for sustainable mobility.


Pete Tiernan
Creative Director
Siemens PLM Software

Pete Tiernan is the senior creative director for Siemens PLM Software. A 28-year veteran of the engineering software industry, Pete oversees reputation and brand management, global advertising and multimedia development for the PLM business unit. His team supports product, industry, regional and corporate marketing activities. Mr. Tiernan has served as the liaison between Siemens and the University of Michigan Solar Car team for two years.


Chuck S. Hutchins
Long-time Supporter and Number One Fan

University of Michigan Solar Car Team

Chuck Hutchins graduated from the University of Michigan in 1957 B.C. (before computers!). 10 years after graduating he began writing assembly line language code which became the basis of MDSI, a company he co-founded in 1969. MDSI built three buildings in Ann Arbor - completely paid in cash - which are now owned by the University and are as known as the Arbor Lakes facility. These buildings served as MDSI's headquarters from 1974 to 1980. Chuck Hutchins has been with the solar car team for 25 years and is affectionately known as the team's number one fan.

photo by epik studios

photo by epik studios

Pavan Naik
Project Manager
University of Michigan Solar Car Team

Pavan Naik is majoring in Industrial and Operations Engineering and is the Project Manager of the University of Michigan Solar Car Team. He joined the team in 2012 because of the passion and competitiveness that fuels the team. Pavan's currently the main contact for external relations and big partners. He's raced in the 2013 World Solar Challenge, the 2014 American Solar Challenge, and the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge and is fired up for the upcoming World Solar Challenge!

photo by epik studios

photo by epik studios

Arnold Kadiu
Engineering Director
University of Michigan Solar Car Team

Arnold was raised in the Metro Detroit area and showed an interest in cars and engineering from a young age. This interest drove him to pursue engineering at the University of Michigan. Arnold is now a senior in Mechanical Engineering. While in college he has participated actively on the University of Michigan Solar Car Team. He joined the team his fall semester as a freshman. In 2012 and 2013 his focus on the team was composite design, analysis and manufacturing of the 2013 Solar Car, Generation. In 2014 and 2015 his role was the Engineering Director of the team. His role was to ensure that the most competitive vehicle was designed and manufactured. He enjoys designing carbon fiber components, biking and running. He hopes to pursue a career in composite product development.


The University of Michigan Solar Car Team's 2015 Unveil will take place at 9:30 am on July 17th, 2015 at the Henry Ford Museum. Pre-registration required. Registration begins at 9:00 am. Watch the live stream at  http://umicheng.in/solar25.

Road to 25 - the Official Launch

In July of 1990 - the University of Michigan Solar Car Team competed in our first solar race. Since then, we've won 8 national championships, 5 top-three world podium finishes, and 1 international victory, making us the winning-est solar car team in history. In fact, the International Solarcar Federation, the governing body of the World Solar Challenge, American Solar Challenge, and other races, recently published global rankings based off of championships in 2013, 2014, and 2015. 

We're second in the world! 

Last week we announced the launch of our Road to 25 campaign - a way to celebrate the achievements of our past 25 years. Each car is highlighted and supporters can vote for their favorite team by donating. Each week we'll share exclusive footage with the winning car. 

Road to 25

This Wednesday we're going to be revealing a huge part of our car. Want a sneak peek? Solve the following puzzle and find out! Hint: You'll need the link of champions above and each team's country (or state if USA). 

  1. University of Minnesota
  2. Twente
  3. University of Michigan
  4. Team Arrow
  5. Principia


A World Race and 25 Years

It's becoming real. The journey to the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge officially began when the regulations were released a little over a year ago on June 5th, 2014. Since then we have worked hard- every action we took was to make a faster car and a better team, all with the ultimate goal of winning the 2015 World Solar Challenge. In that time we have also achieved two victory titles: a National Championship in the American Solar Challenge and an International Championship in the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge. As a team we grew by learning from previous years and from our own previous mistakes. 


Even though we always had that ultimate goal in mind, it's still slowly hitting us that we're on the final sprint. We've already completed the first round of documentation required to race and are in the middle of completing the second round. Yesterday, the World Solar Challenge released the full list of teams; over 45 teams from 25 countries will be competing for the world title!

We're the most successful team in North America and that's not because of luck. The University of Michigan Solar Car Team has 25 years of experience, success, and failure to build upon. I think that the fact that we can tap into this pool of expertise is one of the main reasons behind our considerable success. 

photo by epik studios

photo by epik studios

Last week, we had the opportunity to give back to a legacy of one of those years - Edina (Business), Ujjwal (Media) and I drove to Boston to present a small gift to Furqan Nazeeri, the Project Manager of the 1993 team. Ben (Mechanical) machined and painted a small scale model of Maize and Blue for the event. 

We're only 133 days away from the beginning of the World Solar Challenge. Follow the Road to 25 on Facebook and Twitter! #UMSolar25

A Busy Week and an Empty Workspace

If you were to have walked into our workspace this past week, chances are you wouldn't have seen anybody. The CAEN (computer) lab was empty, no electrical engineers were to be found in the electrical bays, and the main shop floor was uninhabited - save for our mule car.  Yet, this past week has been our busiest week of the summer so far.

Almost everyday this week, we've been sending two groups of team members out to manufacture different portions of our vehicle. Denny, Tyler, Michael, and Ian - our 2015 race electricals - spent most of their week at GM's Warren Technical Center welding a battery pack for our next vehicle. 

The battery pack is broken up into modules and cells - there's a certain number of cells in a module and a certain number of modules in a pack. To arrange the cells in a module we 3D print brackets that safely lock each cell into position. 

photo by epik studios

photo by epik studios

Our Makerbot Replicator 2Xs helped in speeding up the process of designing and printing the brackets. With the Makerbot 3D printers, we were able to test a variety of designs and better optimize the final layout of the brackets. 

photo by epik studios

photo by epik studios

photo by epik studios

photo by epik studios

Almost everyone else who wasn't welding at GM was at Roush sanding and manufacturing the molds for our next car. With all parts of the car coming together, things are getting pretty exciting in Ann Arbor! We're going to have some big news in a couple weeks that we can't wait to share. If you're curious what the name of Michigan's next solar car is going to be, what it's going to look like, or where we're going to be testing in the United States; stay posted!

Notes from the Project Manager

The year is shaping up to be pretty eventful for us. As many of you may know, 2015 is our 25th Anniversary of racing solar cars - it's hard to believe that our first car, Sunrunner, raced in 1990. We're incredibly lucky that we have such a rich history: 25 years of stories, failures, and successes that we can build on. The 25th Anniversary is going to be a common theme you'll see in all our media this year. We've got some pretty big plans for 2015 and we can't wait to share them with everyone.

A lot has been going on this past week, both in terms of our next car and the team. Last Wednesday, we unveiled our 2015 race crew - these 20 guys and girls will be taking the summer and Fall semester off to manufacture, test, and race Michigan's next solar car!



This week we also received all our machined plugs from Ford - they've been a tremendous help; our plugs were made with tooling board donated by Axson and DUNA-USA. It's an indescribable emotion to see the machined plugs for the first time; Jiahong and Ryder, two of the team's aerodynamicsts, were in awe - they both spent months perfecting the aerobody in Siemens NX. To see their creation in person for the first time was an unbelievable feeling! 


Two days ago, we sent a crate with supplies to Baltimore - the crate contained tents, lights, and other various equipment that we'll need in Australia. Today, we sent our semi-trailer on its way as well, where both the crate and the semi will begin the several month sea journey to Oz, courtesy of Höegh Autoliners.

It's hard to believe that there's less than 160 days until the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge... each week from now on will be busier than the last.

Guest Blog: Adam Zehel from the Business Engagement Center

The University of Michigan’s Solar Car Team is recognized as the most successful team in North America, and this year marks their 25th anniversary. As they celebrate past success, they are also getting ready for the 2015 World Solar Challenge this fall in Australia. With the help from faculty and corporate sponsors, the student-run, Solar Car Team designs and builds a solar electric vehicle every two years. The solar car, which can cost more than 1.2 million dollars, is funded, designed, and built by a multidisciplinary team of engineering, arts, business, and science students.

The Solar Car Team provides students with a hands-on experience working with solar-electric vehicles. Sponsors work closely with the team and enjoy access to a physical test bed to experiment with new technologies and approaches, while interacting with outstanding students. Working with and supporting the team gives your organization access to a great source of proven multidisciplinary talent. “Because of how closely we work with our Platinum- and Gold-level sponsors, most of our team members have begun their careers working for these companies after graduation,” says Pavan Naik, the Solar Car Team’s project manager. “In fact, our sponsors are often the first companies team members consider when pursuing internships or full-time opportunities.” 

"Ford Motor Company finds great value sponsoring the Solar Car team and other auto and non-auto related U-M student teams. These students have shown a willingness to go beyond and above their rigorous classroom education and develop technical understanding relevant to our industry and important leadership and teamwork skills. It's an honor to sponsor and assist these impressive students in their remarkable and highly successful efforts," Ed Krause (B.S.E. 86’, M.S.E. 87’), Global Manager, External Alliances, Ford Motor Company.

With the help and support of corporate partners, the team is getting close to their goal of becoming the best in the world. They offer a variety of different sponsorship levels for both financial and in-kind support. Gain exposure and enhance your brand by having your logo featured on the car as the team creates new frontiers in alternative energy and sustainable engineering. The team plans to reveal their new car in June of this year, so there is still time to help this world renowned team make their mark on the global stage!

Adam Zehel, Marketing and Data Assistant, Business Engagement Center

The University of Michigan’s Business Engagement Center is the pathway connecting dynamic organizations with remarkable talent and resources. We inspire successful collaboration and act as a catalyst to create meaningful, invaluable partnerships. We connect the world’s brightest minds with the world’s greatest companies, sparking innovation and change through collaboration.



The American Solar Challenge Conference

How do you learn to design and build a solar car? Although it’s possible to watch documentaries, read technical manuals, and pore over photographs, one of the best ways to learn is from someone who has done it before. Last weekend, the team was privileged to host 150 such people in Ann Arbor for the Solar Car Conference, a three-day smorgasbord of knowledge and collaboration sponsored by the parent organization of the American Solar Challenge. Several teams from across the USA and Canada, plus representatives of Dutch Nuon and Australian Team Arrow, were in attendance. 

Friday evening was a fun chance to relax and get to know our friends and competitors, many of whom had driven all day or made lengthy flights to reach Ann Arbor. In addition to some plenary sessions and the obligatory ASC team roll call, the evening featured a massive pizza dinner and a seminar on project management co-hosted by UMSolar leads Pavan Naik and Arnold Kadiu and Nuon alumni Arjan van Velzen and Bart Koek.

Saturday held the heart of the conference’s technical content. Though a dozen concurrent sessions were held – ranging from race logistics taught by veteran racer and ASCorganizer Gail Lueck to solar array basics taught by legendary solar car array manufacturer Alain Chuzel – everyone learned something. The high point of the day for Michigan came during the evening plenary session, when Dr. Nabih Bedewi brought the team up on stage and announced he had a surprise for us. As an Executive Board member of the International Solar Car Federation, Dr. Bedewi was instrumental in organizing the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge this past January, and presented us with the championship trophy, which until now had been held by our team partners at Abu Dhabi University. It was an honor to finally bring the hardware home!

Sunday seemed to come all too fast, and after a lively morning discussing future rayces and regulations, and a presentation on continuity and knowledge transfer by veteran UMSolar member Aaron Frantz, the conference drew to a close and our friends and perpetual competitors returned to their home institutions to put their newfound knowledge to use on their own vehicles and address the homework they’d neglected all weekend being in Ann Arbor. UMSolar is proud to have hosted this event, and hopes that we’ll see another strong crop of American raycers out on the road soon!

Aaron Frantz, Operations Director

University of Michigan Solar Team Wins Inaugural Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge

Starting in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, the ADSC required three days of fierce racing through city streets and unending desert. By only a small margin, the team was the first to cross the finish line on the last day of the competition. Overall, Quantum finished roughly two and a half minutes ahead of the second place team, Petroleum Institute. 

The team has a history of strong performances in global solar competitions, but this is the first race they have won on an international stage. Bringing students and alumni together on a team is another first for this student run organization. “What’s really neat is that we’ve taken a legacy car that was never intended to be competitive at this point, a team of people who have never raced together and came out here and battled hard against some amazing competitors,” says Joe Lambert, crew chief and 2004 U-M aerospace engineering graduate. “It speaks to the depth and the integrity of the program that we’ve built. You can step back in, and the heartbeat is still the same. The idea is still the same.”

One more layer of firsts was the team’s partnership with Abu Dhabi University, ADU.

More than a dozen ADU engineering students joined the U-M squad throughout the event. These students spent countless hours working alongside the team, learning about the technology, mechanics and strategy that define a successful solar car organization. “This was a really, really good experience, and it was fun learning about how the car works,” says Mohamed Mukhashin, a fourth year mechanical engineering student at Abu Dhabi University. “Everyone was very friendly and it was impressive to watch their work ethic. Hopefully in two years we will have our own car and be able to be in the race with our new friends.”  

“Watching the Michigan spirit pull through and people pull closer and closer together has showcased exactly what we’ve got out of this program—and exactly what we’ve build this program to do,” explains Jeff Ferman, team manager and 2008 U-M graduate in computer science engineering. “One of the things that drove us to come here was the opportunity to help grow the community. The chance to come back and help get another team started, and then be able to see them compete would be really exciting.”

The team was awarded their trophy by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi at the opening ceremonies of the 2015 World Future Energy Summit, which kicks off Abu Dhabi Sustainability week. Quantum will be on display in various venues through the weeklong event.

Third Time's A Charm

I think this is the third time I’ve gone through scrutineering (technical inspections) with Quantum, going back to 2011. That being said, I’ve seen many of the same inspections people a number of times.

I admit that it is a bit strange this time. We’ve gone though it so many times. We’ve got a car that’s gone through it so many times - that if there’s a small problem it’s almost like a little joke. The scrutineers laugh about it and we laugh about it. Obviously we will correct the issue, but it’s more lighthearted this time around.

It’s also a little strange to be back with the team. When you do it in school, Solar Car is a lifestyle. You devote so much of your life to it. You get a lot of inside jokes going. Once you leave it, you don’t immediately realize that it’s gone. It might sound cliché, but it really is like riding a bike. It all comes back to you. The whole lifestyle, the inside jokes, the people, the little quirks.  It’s strange but it feels really nice.

Earlier, we were talking about how nice it would be to get just an alumni solar car team together because of how much more enjoyable it is when you’re not in school. This actually isn’t a new idea. Every single time after a race, people half-jokingly talk about how fun it would be to build another solar car. As students, we do these races and get all this experience, and then leave the team at the top of our game. And now that we’re back, and it all comes rushing back, we talk about all the stuff we could have done a little better. And that’s kinda what this is. It’s coming back. It’s having fun. It’s making some improvements, but most importantly—reliving the experiences.

 Troy Halm, BSE ‘13 Mechanical Engineering

The Horn Hack

The team had assumed they would use their usual solution of an air horn and that they would just buy one when they got to the country. It turns out that air horns aren’t allowed in Abu Dhabi or the Emerites in general—I guess because of huffing. So we didn’t have a horn, and you can’t just go out and buy a car horn for the solar car. Horns are actually nasty devices and you can’t just hook them up to the 12 volt system on the car.

We had a horn but needed to find a way to power it. We needed to figure something out or get a bigger battery. It seems like you can only buy car batteries in this country. So we had to figure something else out.

Joe looked into my eyes and gave me an inspiration. I thought of something loud that can be annoying on demand. So we went and bought some smoke detectors and a door alarm. But those didn’t pan out because they were too smart. We couldn’t figure out a good way to hack the circuitry to be annoying on demand—in the way that we needed it to be.

So it got to the point where we needed to make this horn work and needed a battery. So we were walking around a hardware store and saw a cordless drill with a 12-volt battery in it. I figured if it can drill a hole, it will have enough current to make the horn blow. We got it, wired it up and now the car has a cordless drill battery in it.

There is a probability of success at any point in time. I have my own internal threshold of where that is, and yesterday we were below that threshold. That’s why I went out and bought three plans worth of pieces. The first two plans didn’t pan out, but what we created was the best solution. It’s actually a real car horn.

These situations happen in every race. You’re going to have to MacGyver things up. I think everyone is capable of thinking like this. You just have to be in the right mind set and practice it. When it’s two days before the race and something isn’t working, you’ve GOT to make it work. A nonfunctional car is zero-percent efficient. In those situations you have to make a mind switch, make compromises and just figure something out.

Jeff Rogers, BSE’ 08, MSE’ 10 College of Engineering Computer Science

A Serendipitous Reunion

I joined the Solar Car Team in the first week of my freshman year, in 2009. They had Continuum on the N. Campus Diag, and I thought it was so cool. I just had to do it.

I started in mechanical and did a lot of other things. I actually did the brakes on Quantum. I got into race strategy and was the race strategist for Quantum in 2011 and the head strategist for the 2012 ASC.

The word got out about this race through the alumni grapevine right around the time I was supposed to hear where I would be stationed for a three-month training period for my job as a wireline field engineer for Slumber J. The three places they could have sent me were Siberia, Oklahoma or Abu Dhabi. I lucked out by getting assigned to Abu Dhabi, knowing that I would be there during the race.

The solar car bonds run deep. Some of my best friends are people I met on the team. Naturally we talk about solar car, probably too much; more than what’s a healthy amount at this stage in our lives. I’ve only worked with two or three of the alumni here, but how this multi-generational team has come together is really cool. 

How many student groups have generations of alumni who can come together and work seamlessly because they have the same common experience and can immediately relate to each other? It’s amazing to see how the spirit lives on. It’s the same mentality across the years, which has been big part of our success. This team is made of people who were the leaders of their teams. Everyone understands what’s expected and what it takes to win.

It’s really special to be back at the track with Quantum again. The last time I raced with Quantum was in 2012, and I fully expected it to be retired. Then it comes back again in 2014 and wins another National Champtionship.  Now this race—in a whole new continent, a place Michigan’s never raced before. It’s pretty wild, ground breaking maybe.

You really can’t watch solar car races. Quantum is going to be zipping around 1200 kilometers or so. I’ll have the live blog on my computer and be following that obsessively. This has been the best part of my day—coming back to solar car.

AJ Trublowski, BSE 13 Mechanical engineering

Solar it Forward

I was in the pit area figuring out the horn and John from Principia walked over asking if we had a space battery protection system. I was like…uhh…what? Apparently anther team’s system just wasn’t up to the race regulations and they needed a new one. I actually did have all the components for a spare set to make a system, but it wasn’t assembled.

 I was too busy with the horns to drop what I was doing and build it, but I described what needed to happen to Principia and they got started on it. A few guys in Principia’s pits got started and had the bulk of it complete in about three or four hours.

 Once I got the horn working, I went to help them test the system and individual components. Then I went over to the team in need and started installing it in their battery pack, which they had prepared for me to work on. We got it all soldered up around 11PM last night. When we left, the system was working the lights were blinking and it’s in good shape.

 Our team has spent how many thousands of dollars to get out here and race? I’m sure their spent the same amount of money and time. I would be heartbroken if their car didn’t at least have a chance to start the race. I don’t want any team to have to go through that.

It was a good learning experience for them too. I’m planning to open-source my system after the race so other teams can build off of it, so this was a good kick-start for that.

Engineering is about collaboration and solving problems. If someone’s design doesn’t work, they need to get over that and work toward a solution. Once you can get through that barrier, the amount of work you can get done goes up exponentially. One thing that Michigan is good at is imparting that culture onto their new members. When someone points out the problem in your system, that’s a good thing. The Universe is better off because of that.

I will be working closely on telemetry with Leda as we get closer and closer to the race. The foundation for a lot of the electrical system in our telemetry is still based on stuff I did in 2006. I had no idea what I was doing then, but I kept the systems simple and it’s mostly scalable with what they’ve been doing. I’ve been using this race as an opportunity to go back and fix some of the weaknesses and do a few things differently. Then I can get the current team using these new tools I’ve made and familiarizing themselves with it so that they can build off of them.

 Jeff Rogers, BSE’ 08, MSE’ 10 College of Engineering Computer Science

Update From Team Manager

We took green on all but two stations on the first pass of scrutineering (technical inspections). There were just a few minor things that we just forgot, but for the most part it went very smoothly. This gave us extra time to do those “nice to have” things—like optimizing the alignment or helping another team.

Today is the qualifying event on the track itself, which will be the first time we’re actually driving the car on the Yas Marina Circuit. All solar cars were released at 9 AM and will drive until 5 PM. The number of laps you complete determines poll position.

 There has been a big difference between how Michigan typically handles inspections and how this team has had to manage it. Typically, the team has months to practice scrutineering before they arrive at a race—they’re usually way over-prepared. This team hasn’t had that luxury due to the accelerated timing of how this race has come together. Despite that, our team handled the process incredibly well. We’ve all done it before and the car was ready to go. 

I definitely think this experience is going to help Pavan and Leda as they prepare for the World Solar Challenge. This inspection was so much more difficult than what they’ll have in the world race. Now that they understand exactly what preparations went into this race, they should be able to breeze through the inspections in the world race. The most useful things will come during the next few days. Leda will actually have to run the strategy and have an opportunity to test out what she will be doing in Australia.  If it doesn’t work here, the stakes are a lot lower. This gives her a chance to practice in a real event with other teams, because strategy is never done in a bubble.  

 Jeff Ferman, BSE ‘08 Computer Science Engineering