Ninth grade RAHS students were challenged to write about an aviation community that they often interact with. For freshman Luca Umbelino, it’s the RAHS Green Energy Team! Read about his carbon fiber oven project below.
The RAHS Green Energy Team is a student-led club that annually builds a solar powered car and races it across the country. In order to build this car, they use multiple tools and materials. One of these is an oven. A team of 5 passionate freshmen were assembled for this project. The point of this project was to make an oven to cure foam into a mold for the car. With the cured foam we can move on to the next part of building the car.
To be able to build the oven and stay on our budget we had to come up with a cheap design. We thought about just making a box out of some material and then putting a heater in it with the foam. The material that we were going to use is insulator foam. Once we were told to make an oven that was 2 by 4 by 6 feet we got to work. When we first started to think about what materials we needed, we came up with insulating foam boards, foam glue, and heating lamps. We already had foam glue so all we needed was the foam boards and the heating lamps. For the foam boards we started to reach out to companies to see if they could donate 35 foam boards. We emailed two different companies, Home Depot and InsulFoam. InsulFoam responded they said they could donate 35; 2 in by 4 feet by 8 feet foam boards. The problem with these boards was bringing them back to the RAHS Shop, the boards were big and they could not fit in the van. If we tried to bring the van we would only be able to fit 30 of them, but we needed the full 35. So instead we had to bring out the solar car trailer. Our mentor picked up the foam board and we got to work.
Building the oven was the fun part of this project. We started off by cutting the foam boards into the correct measurements. We used a U shaped bar that has a wire connecting the two sides. The wire was made out of iron, so we connected two copper wires through it and ran a charge of 20 amps through the wires to heat it up. This way the wire could cut the foam. Once the foam was cut we started to assemble it. When we assembled it we did it upside down, so it wouldn’t fall over. Once everything was glued together we wrapped it in tape to make sure it was as tight as possible. Moving forward,all we have to do is buy the heaters and wait for them to arrive.
There were a ton of challenges with this project. Two of the freshmen on the team said that outreach was the hardest part because we didn’t get a lot of responses, but also it was the timing of picking up the foam and we ran into some issues about transporting it all. These freshmen really enjoyed taking charge and participating in the Solar Car Team. They also said it was fun and interesting to control their own project.
This project was a great experience, and a success. All the freshmen had a fun time building the oven. It was a great team bonding experience and we added to our building experience, while also getting work done for the club. In the next few weeks we will be using this oven for the molds, so we can move on to the next part of building the car.
Constructed Oven at the RAHS Shop