Spring Semester and Tilted Solar Cells

This week is the first week of classes for the spring semester. This is rather late for a college to be starting classes, but as I mentioned in our last blog MIT has the Individual Activities Period (IAP) for most of January. This is the fun week of figuring out classes, and bugging your Adviser every other day. I have managed to submit two add/drop forms by the second day of the semester. Let’s hope this trend doesn’t continue. So what does a nuclear Engineering student take? This semester I am taking thermal-fluids engineering, programming in MATLAB, Applied Nuclear Physics, and Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics.

Besides classes I have also been working on an interesting project for the solar car. Right now I am working on modeling the power output from possible array designs for our next car. I am working with the aerodynamics team to give them feedback so we can balance the aerodynamics with solar array output. In my research for this I came across this programming library called PVLIB which was developed by the PV Performance Modeling Collaborative at Sandia National Labs. This library is making my life so much easier by predicting the solar irradiance, calculating the “effective irradiance” for a single cell, and just doing all the complex (real numbers only) math I didn’t want to code. Now just to model a few hundred solar cells that move!

By |body, ee, sevt, Solar Cells, sponsors, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Spring Semester and Tilted Solar Cells

Sponsor Spotlight: Ford


I really like seeing Ford cars drive down the street–I see the Ford Focus a lot and whenever I see a truck, I check to see if it’s a F150 or a truck with some more power. MIT’s Solar Car Team just renewed monetary sponsorship with Ford, and I’m really excited for this support. We are in the midst of designing a new car for competition in the 2017 World Solar Challenge, and we are already starting to purchase new materials for this vehicle. We have a lot of work to do in chassis design, motor characterization and aero optimization, so our daily shop ours are busy and loud. I’d like to use this blog post to send a sincere thanks to Ford–without their support, our team would not be operational. With their generous sponsorship, our team can work towards a day when solar cars are as ubiquitous as the Ford cars I see driving around this Cambridge roads on my way to shop.

-Priya Kikani, Captain


ford logo



By |sponsors|Comments Off on Sponsor Spotlight: Ford

Sponsor Spotlight: 3M

plat - 3m

If you’ve made it to our corner of the internet, chances are you’ve heard of 3M. Post-it notes, scotch tape, 3M products are everywhere, but those of us on the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team know that 3M is so much bigger than that. In fact, Arcturus would never have come into being without the help of 3M products. As a long-standing platinum sponsor of our team, 3M has supported us over many different cars and races, so we wanted to take a moment to spotlight how their contribution keeps our team sticking together and our cars running smoothly.

One of my favorite 3M products that we use on the team are the 3M Speedglass welding helmets. The range of darkness settings and sensitivities on these helmets allow for the safest and most effective welding experience- especially important for new welders who already have their hands full learning the TIG welding ballet.


In addition to keeping us safe while welding, 3M products play a critical role in our composite layup process and the subsequent body work. Cumulatively, the team spent over 150 hours sanding and finishing the body after the layup (a process that was many hundreds of hours on its own). Without key 3M products like the sandpaper and sanding fairing shown below, we would have been hopeless.

IMG_2131 IMG_2136

When we’re at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge next month, we’ll be thinking of 3M every morning when we tape up the fairings and seams of the car with this beautiful vinyl tape.



Our team is very grateful for the continued support of 3M, and we hope all of our sponsors and supporters are proud to be a part of our journey to race in Australia.

Bridgestone World Solar Challenge PRIMARY LOGO

By |publicity, sponsors|Comments Off on Sponsor Spotlight: 3M

Sponsor Spotlight: Infinesse Corporation

plat - infinesse


Infinesse Corporation is the longest standing platinum sponsor of our team, and we are very grateful for their generous support. Designing, building, and racing solar cars is an incredibly challenging and ambitious mission for a student group to embark upon, and Infinesse has stood by us through both the good times and the hard times. In 2009, our team was able to visit the Infinesse LA office in person with Eleanor, our car at that time, giving the whole Infinesse team a chance to see our car up close, and giving us the chance to express our gratitude in person. We hope to make the trip back there before too long, but in the mean time, we’ll be racing for them and all our sponsors and supporters in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in just over a month, so stay tuned as we continue to prepare for the race!

Company Information: Infinesse Corporation manufactures and markets telecommunication systems and semiconductor products. It offers radio frequency (RF) semiconductor components and wireless private branch exchange (PBX). The company was founded in 1991 and is based in Los Angeles, California.


By |Arcturus, sponsors, wsc15|Comments Off on Sponsor Spotlight: Infinesse Corporation

Sponsor Spotlight: UPS and the MIT CTL Support MIT SEVT


UPS has repeatedly demonstrated a commitment to community, sustainability, and research and has a long-standing relationship with MIT research teams including a partnership with the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL). We are excited to announce that UPS is MIT SEVT’s newest Gold Sponsor and is supporting our team by handling the shipment of Arcturus to and from Australia for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Their expertise has already proven invaluable as we navigate the complex customs process.



It is impossible to discuss our excitement that UPS has joined us as a Gold Sponsor without talking about the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, our other newest Gold Sponsor. The MIT CTL, Directed by Professor Yossi Sheffi, has lead the field of supply chain management education and research for over 40 years. Partnering with almost 50 companies, from UPS to Wal-Mart to Anheuser-Busch, they perform solution-driven research that changes the way the world runs. The MIT CTL has been an incredible supporter of our team, and we’re thrilled that they have joined us as a Gold Level Sponsor.

As Gold Sponsors, both the UPS and the MIT CTL logos are on Arcturus, so keep your eyes peeled when you see photos of us driving in Australia or at community events when Arcturus returns from Australia this winter.


Bridgestone World Solar Challenge PRIMARY LOGO

By |Arcturus, sponsors, wsc15|Comments Off on Sponsor Spotlight: UPS and the MIT CTL Support MIT SEVT

our newest silver sponsors

sunpower logo
SunPower Corporation designs and manufactures high-efficiency crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, roof tiles and solar panels based on a silicon all-back-contact solar cell invented at Stanford University. Sunpower has graciously agreed to sponsor by donating of a package of the Maxeon Gen II  solar cells and interconnects. These monocrystalline silicon solar cells are approximately 22% efficient and with Sunpwower’s all back contact and patented tin plated copper interconnect tabs we will be able to create custom modules for our solar array.

new solar cells what the front of a bare solar cell looks like interconnects
hexcel logo

Hexcel is a materials company incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, that manufactures composite materials and structural parts. Hexcel has provided us sheets of Nomex honeycomb which we plan to use in both the top and bottom portions of the aerodynamic shell of our four wheeled vehicle sandwhiched between layers of carbon fiber.
nomex honeycomb

With these in-kind donations, both Sunpower and Hexcel will be considered silver level supporters of the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team and as such their logos will appear on the solar car, support vehicles, team apparel and website. Thank you!

By |sponsors|Comments Off on our newest silver sponsors

Thanks Genasun and EMA Services!

Now that things have settled down a bit and Chopper is back in Boston, we would like to thank Genasun and EMA Services for all the invaluable help they gave us in constructing our battery pack.

First, a huge thanks to Genasun! Alex MeVay and Alexander Hayman of Genasun ( also alums of the team) designed our pack and battery protection system. They were also kind enough to offer us a place to construct the pack as well, and we spent several long days putting together all the batteries, PCBs, and wire cabling. Check out some pictures from the assembly party below!

David screws hardware into some of the PCBs 

 Kelly checks the alignment of the battery tabs before placing the top PCB 
Close-up of the batteries

Julia cuts zip ties holding the two PCB panels together. Almost done!

And of course, another huge thanks to EMA Services. who assembled our BMS boards free of charge. Thanks for helping us out, even during your vacation time!

The team is ready to get started designing again, and we look forward to working with Genasun and EMA Services, as well as all our other sponsors, for our next build cycle. Keep checking the blog, as we’ll be posting updates about our progress. 

Our not-so-secret secret…

So if you’ve been looking closely at some of the pictures we’ve posted, you may have noticed something unusual…
…our red tires!
It’s about time we disclose our secret as rumours have been buzzing around WSC about these.
Adam is interviewed by Japanese TV.
These are custom-made solid polyurethane tires mounted on specially-machined anodized aluminium wheels. Dimensions are: 1 3/8” x 20 3/4”. We have been working all summer with our wonderful and enthusiastic sponsors HSMWorks, Spracher Engineering, and TWT Group to develop these new solar car tires . Special thanks to Anthony Graves, Aidan Bradley, and Bill Spracher for all their hard work with making these possible.
They have a low rolling resistance and thus help make our car highly efficient. We’ve been test driving them around and so far the numbers are looking good. This morning they passed dynamic scrutineering and we ran our time trial on these.
After the race we plan to continue working with Spracher and TWT Group to further develop these with the hopes of producing a new solar car tire for the open market. Look to see more of these in future races!
[Post-Race Edit]:  As you can read in later blog posts we ended up not running the full race on these tires. We swapped them out Day 1 for moped tires. There were a couple issues with these tires causing them to fail. We will continue testing and developing these over the next couple months to resolve the issue. Stay tuned.
By |photos, sponsors, tires, tyres|Comments Off on Our not-so-secret secret…

NovaLynx and Gill Instruments sponsor MIT SEVT

Many thanks to NovaLynx and Gill Instruments, who have donated an ultrasonic anemometer and related equipment to our team.

Adopt a Cell!

Update: our adopt a cell page can now be found at: http://web.mit.edu/solar-cars/www/adopt/

Now that the Global Green Challenge is over and the new semester is about to begin, the SEVT is actively working on the (still unnamed) vehicle that we hope to race in 2011. In addition to design work, that also means fundraising. A lot of fundraising.

We recently began an “Adopt A Cell” campaign to raise money for the most expensive part of the car, the solar array. For $50, you can adopt one of the 1500 solar cells that will cover Eleanor’s successor. You’ll also get a nice picture of Eleanor, a subscription to the team newsletter, and you’ll be recognized on our website (as well as on this blog).

We’ve tried to make cell adoption as simple as possible. You can donate with a credit card or send a check. All donations are tax-deductible. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Thanks to the following people who have already adopted cells:

Joseph A. Buttner
Goro Tamai
Muhammad Itani
Wisam R. Omran
Hans Peter Brondmo
Annette and Andy Batzer
Bill Batzer
James M Harvey
Andre C Kelly


By |adopt-a-cell, fundraising, sponsors|Comments Off on Adopt a Cell!