UT Solar Vehicles Team Partners With Formula Sun Grand Prix

February 06, 2013

The University of Texas at Austin Solar Vehicles Team will serve as the local university host for the Formula Sun Grand Prix event June 24-29 and will organize a variety of activities for the participating teams.

Circuit of The Americas announced today that it will host the event at its new motorsport and event complex in Austin. This is the first time the Formula Sun Grand Prix will be hosted at an official Formula 1 racetrack.Student Solar Team

The Formula Sun Grand Prix is an annual collegiate solar car track event that “challenges students to address areas of energy management, aerodynamics, fabrication and high-tech materials, and we hope students’ involvement in this challenge inspires them to seek careers in these critical fields of study,” said Edgar Farrera, Circuit of The Americas’ director of sustainability.

The UT Austin Solar Vehicles team is a volunteer, student-run organization committed to developing solar electric vehicles and representing the university in international solar car competitions, including the Formula Sun event. The team is comprised of approximately 50 members, most of whom are undergraduate engineering students.

“The Cockrell School is excited to partner with the Formula Sun Grand Prix,” said Gregory L. Fenves, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. “This race will engage science and engineering students across the nation in solar energy technology, and it is an opportunity for our engineering students on the Solar Vehicles Team to showcase their expertise with new technologies and problem-solving skills.”

Before arriving at the host track, teams design and build a solar-powered vehicle in accordance with the event regulations. Upon arrival, all solar cars go through an inspection process known as scrutineering. These inspections focus on safety checks, adherence to the regulations and cover all aspects of the car, including mechanical, electrical, body and sizing, and dynamic testing. Only teams that successfully pass all inspections are permitted to compete in a three-day track endurance race.

During the race, teams aim to complete as many laps as possible during the designated driving hours each day. Energy management is important as teams have limited solar charging time in the morning and evening each day. After three days of on-track competition, the team logging the most laps is declared the winner.

All of the Formula Sun Grand Prix’s solar car events are free and open to the public.

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