Circuit of the Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein (center) talks with UT Solar Car team members and faculty sponsor Dr. Gary Hallock about the immense planning and experimentation that goes into building the UT solar car that will compete in the Formula Sun race in Austin in June at the COTA track.

Circuit of The Americas will sponsor of The University of Texas at Austin Solar Vehicles Team (UTSVT) participating in the Formula Sun Grand Prix June 24-29. The Circuit’s $50,000 sponsorship will cover costs associated with the production of the university team’s solar cars, including the photovoltaic cells that cover the body of the car and convert sunlight into electricity that powers the car’s motor.

COTA Solar CarThe Formula Sun Grand Prix, an annual collegiate solar car track event, will be held at Circuit of The Americas, making this the is the first time the event will be hosted at an official Formula 1 racetrack.

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

UTSVT is a volunteer, student-run organization committed to developing solar electric vehicles and representing The University of Texas at Austin in international solar car competitions. The team is comprised of approximately 50 members, most of whom are undergraduate students in the Cockrell School. UTSVT will also serve as the local university host for the event and will organize a variety of activities for the participating teams.

“Circuit of The Americas is committed to supporting educational initiatives in the local community, and we are honored to sponsor the local university host team for this event,” said Edgar Farrera, the Circuit’s director of sustainability. “We hope students’ involvement in this challenge inspires them to seek careers in energy management, aerodynamics, fabrication and high-tech materials.”

The Formula Sun Grand Prix is an annual collegiate solar car track event. Before arriving at the host track, teams design and build a solar-powered vehicle in accordance with 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 Grand Prix’s solar car events are free and open to the public.