News Service


Brian Moorhead, Team PrISUm, (515) 294-0899
Jim Melsa, Engineering, (515) 294-5933
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University's solar car team, Team PrISUm, will send two members to Australia this month in the first international student exchange between solar car teams. The exchange program is with the solar car team from the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

The Iowa State students -- Brian Moorhead, a fourth-year electrical engineering student from Davenport, Iowa, and Randy Ritt, a first-year electrical engineering student from Sherrill, Iowa -- will leave for Australia Dec. 11. They will take part in pre-race activities with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) solar car team members. The UNSW team plans to race its car, Sunswift II, from Perth, Australia, to Sydney.

Moorhead said that going to Australia will let him "experience another solar car team from the inside. We have so much to learn from seeing how they run their team and race their car, because the race they participate in is so different from the Sunrayce."

Ritt added he wants to see how the Australians act in race situations. "Since we compete in two different solar car races, we face different types of issues when racing solar cars," he said.

Iowa State Engineering Dean Jim Melsa explained that the college has an ongoing exchange with UNSW. "We have been working very hard to expand international opportunities for students and this seems to be another excellent opportunity for them," Melsa said.

Iowa State's solar car team currently is building a new solar car, the PrISUm Phoenix, to race in Sunrayce'99, a 1340-mile race to be held June 20-29 from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Fla.

While Moorhead and Ritt are in Australia, the UNSW team will be preparing for a run at the west-to-east transcontinental solar car record from Perth to Sydney. Because UNSW is located in Sydney, the team will first "tour" from Sydney to Perth before racing back to Sydney. It is during the non- racing portion of the trip to Perth when Moorhead and Ritt will be with the Australia team.

"This is when they will be working out the bugs of their car and refining their strategy," he said. "We hope to help them with problems before they make the world record attempt and maybe help to improve their performance before the clock is ticking."

Students from the UNSW team are expected to come to the United States around June 10, 1999. They will travel with Team PrISUm from Ames to Washington, D.C., in preparation of Sunrayce'99 and then be with the Iowa State team during the race.

Sunrayce is an ongoing educational program that culminates in a biennial cross-country race of solar-powered cars. The program is open to colleges, universities, trade schools and other post-secondary educational institutions. PrISUm Phoenix is the fifth solar car built by Iowa State students, who have participated in Sunrayce activities since 1990.

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