MSU Students Building Solar Car For Upcoming Race
Students at Montana State University are building a state-of-the-art solar powered vehicle to compete in a race this summer, but it isn't the first solar powered vehicle built at the university.
According to Greg Colquitt, Marketing Director for the Bridger Solar Team, the first solar car was built at MSU in 1995 to participate in the GM sponsored Sunrayce 95, which was a long-distance race from Indianapolis, IN to Golden, CO. The car was named the Double Black Diamond. After MSU raced its first car in the Sunrayce 95, the solar car club at the school shut down.
In 2018, two MSU students revived the program and built the first solar car at MSU in over 20 years. The vehicle was built to race in the 2019 cross-country American Solar Challenge, which according to Colquitt, is an evolution of the Sunrayce 95. Unfortunately, do to lack of funding and safety concerns, the car was never entered in the race.
Now, the Bridger Solar Team is working on its second solar powered car. The car is being designed to race at this summer's 2021 Formula Sun Grand Prix--a closed-track race that is a qualifier for the cross-country American Solar Challenge.
Colquitt says the club has grown from just a few students in 2018 to more than 30 students today with fields of study ranging from marketing and film to mechanical and electrical engineering.
The purpose of this summer's race is to spur innovation and the winners are crowned victorious and walk away with bragging rights. We are using it as an opportunity to accelerate exciting innovation in Bozeman, solve real problems, and build leadership skills so we can improve our communities after graduation.
We also asked if a solar car would be efficient in a place like Bozeman since a solar Colquitt said that idea of having the sun directly power a passenger vehicle is not possible just yet. In the future, he expects to see the efficiency of solar panels improve and the likelihood of solar vehicles on the road increase.
As for how a solar powered would handle the harsh winters in Bozeman, Colquitt says that;
In particularly in a sunny place like Bozeman, winter is not as much of a hindrance as it may sound. The solar panels actually run a greater risk of overheating in the summer so cooler weather helps prevent this from happening.
For more information about the Bridger Solar Team, click here.