Road Trip to Detroit

As we previously mentioned, the team went to Detroit in July! Though the purpose of the trip was for wind tunnel testing, that activity only took one day, so we spent the rest of the week doing some serious road testing and practicing for the upcoming Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. This week of testing gave us valuable experience, allowed for design optimizations to be made, and gave us critical data on Arcturus’s power draw.

For those not familiar with Michigan, they have some very snowy, cold winters, which leads to many of their roads having pot holes. This was great for testing our suspension, but after proving our rugged design, it was time to allow the drivers to have some comfort in the form of a smooth road. We eventually found a suitable route in a rural town outside of Detroit. While driving out in the countryside, we noticed that there was a large thunderstorm forming on the Doppler RADAR. Fearing there might be hail, and with our trailer a few miles away, we sought the only feasible shelter, a gas station. This was definitely a good call, as, within a few minutes of parking Arcturus, a torrential downpour began.

Arcturus at a gas station

This testing was good, but we quickly became limited by the speed limit on our chosen route, so we graduated to testing Arcturus on rural highways. After speaking with the Superintendent, we were able to set up “camp” at a school along the highway we had chosen to test on. The route also had some good hills, which was great for testing.

Beyond testing the car and training our drivers, the road trip was great for meeting people and doing some informal outreach. Almost all of the people we met in Michigan were very kind and intrigued by the car. In fact, one of the teachers we happened to talk to ended up tweeting about us:

We left Michigan at the end of the week. Everyone was exhausted from seven long days of testing and fixing. This week provided great practice and road time to prepare for the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. We even managed to get back to Boston in time to get the people who flew in for the week to the airport for their flights out. Check out the pictures from the road trip.

Bridgestone World Solar Challenge PRIMARY LOGO

Hong Kong Trip

We were invited to visit the Institute for Vocational Education (Tsing Yi campus) in Hong Kong to participate in sharing sessions. IVE has built two generations of SOPHIE, a solar car, and they hope to compete in the 2013 World Solar Challenge.

Alejandro, Rachel, Maddie, and I were honored to go to Hong Kong and help the talented IVE team. I think that everyone learned a lot and came away with a renewed desire to rayce well.

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McKay School Visit and Junior Solar Sprints

In May, some students from the McKay School in Boston came to see Eleanor. George, Mike, and I showed them the shop and the car.

 George and Mike talking with the students.

We also had the opportunity to display Eleanor at the Junior Solar Sprints in Cambridge, which was held at MIT’s track.

We enjoyed seeing the mini solar cars that the children built and raced!

Future solar raycers.
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South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Yesterday, we drove Eleanor to South Boston and marched in the parade. It was raining the entire time, but there was still a sizable crowd. Many parade watchers were in awe when they saw Eleanor.

Waiting before the parade began.

Many thanks to Rick Winterson (MIT ’56) for making arrangements for us to participate in the parade.

Visit from Codman Academy

Yesterday, we had almost 50 students come to visit from the Codman Academy Charter School. George, Maddie, and I had fun teaching them about the car and showing them around the shop.

Explaining the electrical system during the presentation.

Checking out Eleanor in the shop.
  We were glad to have the students over, and maybe we’ll see them again next year!
Photo credit: Maddie Hickman
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TeenLife Boston Community Volunteer Fair

Last Sunday, we took Eleanor to the TeenLife Boston fair in Chestnut Hill. People were pretty enthusiastic about the car and asked a lot of questions.

Before the fair began.
Michael B., Fiona, and Mike talk with fair participants.
  We enjoyed showing the car at the fair. Thanks to TeenLife Boston for inviting us!
Photo credit: Chris Pentacoff
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Greening MIT

On September 14, MIT held its annual community fall break in Killian Court. The theme was “Greening MIT,” and we were invited to host a table.

Although we couldn’t display Eleanor (she’s being shipped to Australia!), people were still pretty enthusiastic. Mike and I talked with students about the team and solar car racing, and we picked up quite a few potential recruits. President Hockfield stopped by for a few minutes to inquire about WSC, which was nice.

We’ve been busy with teaching new members and prepping for the race. Less than a month to go!

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