// in this issue
- Racing through the Outback
- American Solar Challenge Preparations
- Featured Outreach Event: Techfair
- Featured Member: Alexander Hayman
// upcoming events
- Apr 21: MIT Activities Midway (for incoming freshmen)
- Jul 6-21: American Solar Challenge
2011 World Solar Challenge Recap
Racing through the Outback
Photo by Simon Calcutt
October 28, 2011—Adelaide, Australia: Among the past World Solar Challenge races, this year's 2011 WSC ranks as one of the most unpredictable and fun races. SEVT's biggest hurdle presented itself before the race had even begun: 38 hours prior to the race start, the team was informed by the shipper that they would be unable to deliver the already delayed shipment of the team's 21kg lithium-ion battery pack. True to the MIT engineering spirit, the team persevered to build a new pack on the evening of time trials. After a long night of pure brains and adrenaline, the Electrical Engineering team was able to design a new pack using spare battery management circuitry and donated spare modules. At 11:00 am the following morning, the pack was completed. A few laps in the parking lot and a half hour later, race officials inspected the pack, and at noon Chopper del Sol ran the time trial to determine race start order.
The following race days included a barrage of bizarre events ranging from brush fires to lightning storms. The first day Chopper del Sol cruised relatively smoothly besides a shredded tire and a few electrical array problems which were quickly fixed by the MIT team. As the race progressed, the weather worsened with hazy clouds, thunder, and rain. Bush fires also stopped all teams for four hours one of the days. Despite these difficulties, the team worked around the clock to maximize the solar car's mileage. On the last day of the race, the team actually turned around and drove North to gain some extra solar miles! Due to MIT's innovative idea, Chopper del Sol's rank went up one place, beating the team ahead of it by an extremely close 1km. In the end, MIT placed 3rd amongst the US teams and 15th overall in the 2011 WSC.
Although there were many roadblocks throughout the two weeks in Australia, the MIT SEVT did an outstanding job in recovery through hard work and quick thinking. The team had a fun and an unforgettable journey together. Now they are looking to design the next WSC car and refurbish Chopper del Sol for the American Solar Challenge this July.
To read more details about MIT SEVT in the 2011 WSC, visit our blog at http://mitsolar.blogspot.com/.
American Solar Challenge Preparations
Click for full size image | Photo by Alix de Monts
January 26, 2012—Cambridge, MA: Anticipation is building as the team prepares for the upcoming American Solar Challenge (ASC) taking place in July. The ASC is a 1650 mile race spanning 8 days which will begin in Rochester, New york and ends in St. Paul, Minnesota. Before the team can compete in the ASC though, they must first pass the scrutineering test and and determine their starting position in the Formula Sun Grand Prix. Since ASC has several different rules than the WSC, MIT SEVT is currently redesigning and building different aspects of Chopper del Sol.
Many of the new changes for Chopper del Sol involve trying to fit Michelin tires. Chopper del Sol ran the WSC with customized Savas tires, but Michelin tires proved to perform better in the WSC in terms of rolling resistance. The front fairings have been redesigned to fit Michelin tires and allow a wider turning radius. The front suspension on the car is also being redesigned to better fit the needs of the car. The team is also adding a second roll bar to the chassis and making a different parking brake system. All of these modifications are being made to fit within the ASC regulations.
As for the electrical system, there are three main goals. The first goal is to design and fabricate a new battery pack. The team believes there will be better benefits with a new type of battery pack. Another goal is to improve the overall system's reliability. In particular, there will be improvements regarding the power point trackers, motor control system, and motor itself. The last goal is to design and implement a new driver interface including a dashboard.
With all the different areas of improvement, the MIT SEVT has much to do before the race. However, with dedication and hard work, the team has confidence they will do well in ASC.
To read more about the upcoming ASC, visit their website at http://americansolarchallenge.org/.
February 2012—Cambridge, MA: Techfair is an MIT student-run event in which companies, MIT clubs, and individuals show off their greatest technological products or recruit other students. It differs from the annual career fair in that it focuses only on technological products or research and has a more casual environment. Companies and other student representatives set up their own booth and have employees or members open for discussion, questions, and cool demos. The participants have a "shopping" style of browsing in which they can walk from booth to booth and talk to any participants that interest them.
Techfair has thousands of visitors and MIT SEVT has been represented in the past several years. The event is a great way to garner support from the public as well as other students. This year, Chopper del Sol made its appearance as representatives of MIT SEVT answered questions and encouraged interest in the energy and engineering field.
To learn more about Techfair, visit their website at http://techfair.mit.edu/.
Click for full size image | Photo by Nick Chornay
Course: 6-1 (Electrical Science and Engineering)
Post-graduation job: Electrical engineer at Genasun
Years on team: 7
1. What do you love most about SEVT?
One of my favorite aspects of the SEVT is that the team often has the
chance to interact with and inspire the younger generation. When we
display the car at local schools or students visit our shop, kids
usually demonstrate pure excitement and curiosity, which I always find
to be very uplifting.
2. If you could be a component of the car, what would you be?
3. What is your favorite memory of WSC/ASC or SEVT in general?
Driving the car back from the finisher's display to the parade ground
after WSC 2009.
4. If you had to name the next car, what would you name it?
5. Why did you join SEVT and stick with it?
I joined SEVT because I was excited to work on an engineering stunt.
The cars we build incorporate the most advanced technologies
available. I stuck with it because it became something that I was very
passionate about, and I realized that the skills I was developing were
6. What is one thing you have taken away from your experiences with SEVT?
Confidence in my ability to commit to a very long term project, and my
ability to tackle challenging problems.
* Photo by Pete Augenbergs