Iowa State University
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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

7-11-08

Sol Invictus and the four members of the Team
PrISUm.

Matt Martin takes his place in the driver's seat of Sol Invictus, Iowa State University's solar race car. In the back, left to right, are Team PrISUm members Wade Johanns, Sarah Kelly and Michael Steffen. Photo by Bob Elbert. See larger photo.

Contacts:

Luke Martz, PrISUm Solar Car Team, (563) 299-3977

Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778, tbarron@iastate.edu

Mike Krapfl, News Service, (515) 294-4917, mkrapfl@iastate.edu

Iowa State solar race car passes inspections, gets set for cross-continental race

AMES, Iowa -- Sol Invictus, Iowa State University's solar race car, ran on sun power for the first time this morning.

And that has the students of Team PrISUm confident they'll be lining up for the start of the 2,400-mile North American Solar Challenge this weekend. The challenge will put 17 student-designed and student-built solar race cars on the road from Plano, Texas, to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They'll run July 13-22 with a checkpoint in Omaha, Neb., July 15-16 and a stage stop in Sioux Falls, S.D., July 16-18. The route between those cities takes the solar cars into western Iowa for about 30 miles north of Sioux City.

The Iowa State team has passed most of the race's technical inspections this week. But there's still an electrical problem to fix and some on-track tests to pass before it qualifies for the race. Even so, Sarah Kelly, Team PrISUm's project director and a senior mechanical engineering major from Rochester, Minn., said she thinks the team will "definitely" move forward and race.

She, after all, had just watched the car make a short run.

"It was pretty exciting," she said.

But there are plenty of challenges ahead. This morning the team was at the Motorsports Ranch in Cresson, Texas, working to fix an electrical problem that's triggering the car's battery protection system and causing the system to kill the motor. Then it's on to a series of dynamic tests, including getting through slalom and figure-eight courses and meeting turning radius and braking requirements. Then there's a 125-mile qualifying run on the race track.

Will the team get the car fixed and on track?

"We're working on it right now," Kelly said this morning. "We know exactly what the problem is. I'm confident that we'll be lining up on Sunday."

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Quick look

The students of Team PrISUm are confident they'll get their solar race car through inspections and qualifications an in the North American Solar Challenge. The 2,400-mile challenge starts July 13 in Plano, Texas, and ends July 22 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Quote

"It was pretty exciting."

Sarah Kelly, Team PrISUm's project director and a senior mechanical engineering major from Rochester, Minn., after watching the team's solar race car run under sun power for the first time

Team PrISUm

  • Evan Adkins, sophomore, computer engineering
  • Andrew Carson, senior, materials science and engineering
  • Edward Cramer, senior, electrical engineering
  • Scott Elliott, senior, electrical engineering
  • Wade Johanns, senior, aerospace engineering
  • Sonia Jose, sophomore, mechanical engineering
  • Nathaniel Kaiser, sophomore, mechanical engineering
  • Erin Kelly, junior, chemical engineering
  • Sarah Kelly, senior, mechanical engineering
  • Matt Martin, senior, aerospace engineering
  • Michael Martz, senior, political science
  • Timothy Morgan, junior, mechanical engineering
  • Michael Steffen, sophomore, electrical engineering
  • Ron Nelson, professor of mechanical engineering, faculty adviser