Even though the Solar Car Challenge has been delayed until next summer, we haven’t stopped working towards our goal of creating a successful, competition-ready solar car to bring to the Texas Motor Speedway in July of 2021. Over the summer, the RAHS Green Energy Team reached a significant milestone: our new solar car is now officially driving under power! Additionally, we’ve advanced our outreach program by presenting to RAHS benefactor Dr. James Raisbeck and local flight instruction company Galvin Flying. With the combined effort of multiple team members, we’ve also created a team video to submit in accordance with the new, socially distant 2020 Solar Car Challenge.
After Raisbeck Aviation High School entered distance learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew that we had to uproot our operation and change locations to continue progress on the car. We brought the car to Alain’s house in June as a simple chassis, and we’re excited to share the progress we’ve made on the car thus far.
With our 434-cell lithium-ion battery completely assembled, our two 1500-watt hub motors attached, and our high-power motor controller connecting the two, the 2021 vehicle — also known as the Lean Green Driving Machine — is ready to take off towards its next stage of development. The car is now officially driving under its own power. When asked about what it was like being able to drive the culmination of 12 months of work, team members were excited to report their satisfaction. Nigel Barnett (12) remarked, “Driving the car is really exciting. It’s like your birthday, Christmas, and the last day of school at the same time.” Hailin Truman (10) agreed: “It’s awesome! The feeling of being able to work on something for so long, and put your blood, sweat, and tears into and have it work, it’s an exhilarating feeling.”
This project has not come to fruition without the help of our community partners and supporters. We’ve continued to show our gratitude for Dr. James Raisbeck, one of our biggest supporters, by presenting the team’s progress on the car and preparing for next year’s race. During the presentation, we discussed our research process, design phase, team organizational structure, and outreach program. Additionally, we were able to bring both the 2019 Solar Car — also known as the Mean Green Driving Machine — and the 2021 Solar Car to demonstrate our progress and lessons learned from last year.
Sophomore team member Alexis Lee enjoys presenting her work on the car. “Over the summer, I was spending hours upon hours working on the interconnection board (a board that connects all electrical systems in the car together), and I was just trying to learn everything I could so the part is successful. To the interconnection board working successfully on the car, and then having the opportunity to present it to incredible sponsors is the reason why I keep coming back for more. I think the whole team could agree that it’s a sense of pride to see how the work pays off.”
Although we couldn’t compete in the Solar Car Challenge this year, the race organizers put together another kind of challenge for teams to show off their efforts over the past year. In place of an in-person race, the Green Energy Team plans to submit an eight-minute video detailing the team’s process in developing the car, and explaining our engineering decisions in the design and assembly phases. Additionally, the race organizers want to know how we gathered support for the team, ran our fundraising program, and sought to inspire our community through real-world problem solving. The video will be published to the Green Energy Team website as soon as we submit it to the race organizers.
We’re excited to move forward with our year, and we can’t wait to show you our progress along the way. If you want to stay updated, you can follow us on our Instagram, Twitter, or check back for bi-weekly blog posts here on our website. As always, we are incredibly grateful for your support.