STEM Pipeline Blog / October 19, 2023
In Search of Sun and SME’s: Saginaw STEM is on the hunt for experts to help with the Solar Car Challenge Team
The Solar Car Challenge is a national, project-based STEM initiative helping motivate students in Science, Engineering, and Alternative Energy. The effort got its start in 1989 with the launch of an education program to teach high school students how to build and safely race roadworthy solar cars.
The Challenge is a national high school competition and race, but it’s so much more than a race. That’s why it’s called the ‘Solar Car Challenge’ instead of a race, because it’s a challenge even to qualify to race.
The initiative is a two-year program for high schoolers to build a solar car based on specific rules and regulations. The end product of each two-year education cycle is the Solar Car Challenge: a closed-track event at the world-famous Texas Motor Speedway, or a cross-country race designed to give students an opportunity to drive and display their solar cars.
Last year, we partnered with a program in Detroit called Heroes’ Alliance to help them with their solar car and participated in the bi-annual cross-country 9-day race from Fort Worth, Texas to Palmdale, California with stops at the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, and ending our trip on the beach in Santa Monica, CA. Two Saginaw STEM students, myself and nine Detroit students competed with Heroes’ Alliance in the Challenge. In the end, we actually took first place in that competition, which was a testament to our efforts for it being our first year.
Now, our team is looking to build our own solar car right here in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Partners in the region and kids from our high school program will go down for the alternate year on-site event at Texas Motor Speedway in July of 2024 with our own car to compete once again, this time as our own team.
To support that, we’re primarily looking for subject matter experts and working professionals to fine tune some of the aspects of this year’s Challenge. We need help with mechanical engineering, CAD design, thermal management, electrical engineering, systems engineering, program management, requirements capturing and management, testing and validation, data analytics, logistics, marketing and communications and more.
Our timeline was to get started this fall for vehicle engineering classes and requirements, reviewing those and packaging studies. Then the final chassis design needs to be set by the end of October, with fabrication in the months following. Having the working knowledge and guidance from subject matter experts throughout this process is something that both helps and inspires our students to set and work towards these goals.
The Saginaw STEM Solar Car Team is currently still working out of Saginaw High School, but we are looking at move into the campus of Saginaw Valley State University as we grow, so we are working on what that could look like now. The team will be meeting on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. at our lab at Saginaw High. We are also open to adding Mondays and Fridays and adjusting the times for professionals in order to fit their schedules and allow for flexibility.
Long term, we’re going to be traveling to Texas, so there will be opportunities to help with the logistical items that we need like hotel rooms and travel expenses. Those who would like to support Saginaw STEM as we prepare to take on the 2024 Solar Car Challenge can learn more and donate here.
Those who are interested in volunteering or would like to learn more can email Dante Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about the Solar Car Challenge, you can visit https://www.solarcarchallenge.org/challenge/
Dante Davis, Founder of Saginaw STEM
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