Experiences of New Members

Electrical System, Featured, General, Solar / Monday, February 21st, 2022

This blog segment was written by Kean Timblin (10) during the onboarding process when joining the Green Energy team. Kean now focuses primarily on the construction of our solar array. 

This year, the Raisbeck Aviation High School Green Energy Team received an influx of applications requesting to join. Like others, I had no idea what I was signing up for when I first submitted an application to join the team. The team’s small community—a closely-knit group held together by a love for the car—met new members with their fiery passion. Coming up with the idea to have weekly mentorships, or individual time with each team member on a specific subject, they managed to handle the now tripled team size. New members have been able to gain so much from these new and exciting experiences. I have been able to build connections with people from completely different backgrounds and work on new problems and ideas that I had not come in contact with before, with dedicated learners and opportunities to help me along the way.

Kean Timblin (10) and Lovie Sia (9) take turns soldering solar cells.

It is not just new members who are reaping the benefits of these mentorships. Abigail Jawili (10), a returning member on the team, also agrees, stating, “I am now able to talk with all grades and make new connections with others that I would’ve not made before.” She goes on to explain how the Covid-19 pandemic affected the ways in which she could get to know the team’s community by it being “very hard to connect online with the other team members,” but that the team still met her with the same positive energy or “hard work (of the upperclassmen creating a curriculum)” I received, and still am receiving.

Joining the Green Energy Team gave me more than just real-world skills, but also a new community to connect with. Many of the skills I learned were taught in the mentorship programs. It started off with Maya (12), the team’s fundraising lead, who presented at the beginning of the year. From her lesson, I learned how to reach out to people or companies with a professional demeanor and correct email technique for those who we are reaching out to, even when they are someone close; I will be able to use these skills in many professional careers in the future. I also got to learn about programs I have never used before, such as Autodesk Inventor CAD (Computer-aided design) with Zach Olson (10), Eagle CAD with Abigail Jawili (10), and Tinker CAD with Eric Nguyen (10). I also got to learn about telemetry of the car and basic programming with Timothy Jou (10), how to program simple tasks for arduinos with Eric Nguyen (10), and how to demonstrate shop safety with Teddie Blahous.

New member Kaley Hoang (10) also says that she learned a lot from these mentorships. She notes “My favorite mentorships include soldering and learning about arduino.” These were her favorites because she “really likes doing hands-on activities,” and wants to be doing “more of that” in the future work of the car. She also admitted that the things she is learning now will be “very helpful” for her career. Both of us agreed that we were excited with where the Green Energy Team is taking us and what we will get to learn about next. Our list of things we are hoping to learn includes learning to weld, which we have heard is coming soon. We also hope to learn how to use shop tools, something Abigail Jawili (10) had mentioned she learned while in her first year.

Opal Heltzel (11) and Kean Timblin solder solaring cells together.

The Green Energy Team has allowed me to explore new opportunities and build new bonds like never before. Whether it be learning how to solder to programming arduinos, I have learned a lot about the different parts of the car. Still, I cannot wait to work on hands-on projects more in depth and be a part of the team effort. I am sure the other new members would agree. Even though we have learned so much these past few months, there is still so much more to learn. There is no rush, though. Just because this is a new journey for many of us, we cannot forget that this is only the beginning.

Recently, I have been working with one of the key aspects of the car: the solar panels.  Last year’s panels underperformed significantly. This year, it is very important to improve our solar array in hopes of achieving a third championship down in Texas’s Solar Car Challenge. With the guidance of our mentor, Dr. Alain Semet, and Opal Heltzel (11), I have learned the basics of soldering solar panels in preparation for our final arrangement. This multi-step process requires extreme care when handling the panels. Because of this, Kaley Hoang (10) and I have spent many hours practicing on test panels so we can get it right. Our practice bears fruit; we have recently achieved soldering our first five by five array under the watch of Opal Heltzel (11). Yet this is just one milestone out of many. In the near future, we will likely begin our work for the final setup. I can’t wait to get started!

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