Iowa State University


Tom Mitchell, ISU Foundation, (515) 294-4077
Beth Hunter, Team PrISUm, (515) 294-0899
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State's solar car team members will fix their car, ExCYtor, and gear up for Sunrayce qualifiers, June 13-17, just prior to Sunrayce 97. Cost to repair the car is estimated at $55,000 and the ISU Foundation and the College of Engineering have agreed to help the students by raising funds toward the expenses.

"We are proud of what the students have accomplished and we want to encourage them to see this project to completion because it is a great example of students doing engineering as part of their educational activities," said ISU Engineering Dean James Melsa.

"For the ISU Foundation, involvement in the project comes naturally from a long-standing tradition of providing the private gift support to advance the university's mission," said Tom Mitchell, president of the ISU Foundation.

The car, built by Team PrISUm students, was damaged in an accident on April 29 near Topeka, Kan. The team was returning from a Sunrayce 97 qualifier round in Mesa, Ariz.

Fixing the car "will be very challenging, but very doable," said Team PrISUm director Beth Hunter. "I think we will end up with a better car than we had at qualifiers."

Hunter said the students currently are dismantling the car and figuring out what needs to be fixed and replaced. Their goal is to finish fixing the car by June 6 and take it to Indianapolis for the final qualifying round prior to Sunrayce 97.

Among the damaged items are the solar cells, batteries, mechanical systems, suspension system and the shell. So far, Hunter said many companies have been considerate in helping the ISU team get replacement parts in terms of turnaround time and price. For example, the battery manufacturer, Delphi Automotive, Indianapolis, will provide 14 new batteries at the price of seven and Bob Brown Chevrolet, Des Moines, will repaint the car's shell for free when the students provide materials.

The entire solar array will have to be replaced, meaning each solar cell will have to be laminated and connected to the grid, a formidable task, Hunter said. But the team will get the 1,100 cells at a reduced cost and on a quick turnaround from their distributor, Photon Technologies Inc., Severna Park, Md.

"The entire team needs this to happen to provide some closure on the two years we have spent working on the car," Hunter said. "We've learned a lot in the process building the car, but we really want to race it, and we feel we need to race it, too."

There are a total of 40 racing slots for Sunrayce 97. Of that, 24 teams have already qualified and up to 32 other teams are vying for the final 16 race slots, Hunter said.

Sunrayce 97 is a biennial solar car race that begins on June 19 in Indianapolis and ends on June 28 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Individuals or corporations interested in contributing to the solar car repair expenses should call the ISU Foundation at (515) 294-4607.

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