AUSTIN, Texas - In bright sun and 105-degree heat, the solar vehicle team at Oregon State University drove "The Phoenix" last week to victory in the 2013 Formula Sun Grand Prix competition in Austin, Texas - 193 laps, or 661 miles, around the Circuit of the Americas raceway on nothing but solar energy.
Eleven teams from across North America competed in the closest Formula Sun Grand Prix race in its 13-year history, a three-day race that featured 24 hours of racing time.
The OSU team was followed closely by Illinois State University, with 192 laps, and Iowa State University, with 191 laps, in this "cooperative" racing format, in which teams help others to address problems in the interest of helping every participant do as well as possible.
"The Phoenix had several motor problems this year, but Missouri University of Science and Technology generously lent their spare motor, and OSU was able to make it out on the track," said Jacob Hamar, co-captain of the team.
More motor problems developed later in the race, but Northwestern University offered use of the motor from its car that was unable to race for other reasons. In that cooperative spirit, OSU helped many other teams to create, install and test new solar modules, repair brake systems, identify battery protection concerns and other issues.
Aside from winning the race, the OSU team also received the sportsmanship award for assistance to other teams. Last year the team received the Spirit of the Race award for excellence in engineering, teamwork, and sportsmanship.
OSU plans to compete again next summer in the 2014 American Solar Challenge, which will include both track race and road race competition. More detail on the team is available online at www.osusvt.com
This racing team at OSU helps both undergraduate and graduate students build skills in all aspects of solar vehicle technology. Participating on the team also provides experiences in teamwork, engineering, and business project management.