Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

ECE News Story

Solar Car

The students, staff, and faculty of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department can be proud that the University of Michigan Solar Car Team has officially placed as the first American team, the first university team, and third overall in the 2001 World Solar Challenge, which took place from Darwin to Adelaide through the Outback of Australia from November 18th to 25th. Among the members of the race team were 5 EECS students (Eric Carlson, Chris Deline, Blair Lorimer, Saaj Shaw, and Michael Yagley) and Brian Gilchrist from our faculty. In addition, more students have helped to develop the car over the last two years. It is probably not unexpected to note that electrical and computer technologies make up a significant part of the solar car.

To paraphrase the Team's Student Leader, Nader Shwayhat, the team drove Michigan's M-Pulse car as hard as they could and aside from a four-minute motor change on day three, they suffered no breakdowns, setbacks, or problems and did not even have to replace a single tire throughout the entire 3000-kilometer distance. Over the course of the race, the team set several records, both personal and official, and in the process, truly inspired and impressed the crowds in Australia. With a final finishing time of 34.25 hours and an average speed of 87.52kph (54.35mph), the Michigan team secured the fourth fastest time in the competition's 14-year history and the fastest overall time ever recorded for a university team.

The only teams to have traveled faster than Michigan was Honda Motor Company from the mid-1990's (which Michigan missed by only 45 minutes) with their average speed of 89.4 kph and this year's incredible first and second place finishers: the Alpha Centari Group (Netherlands, ESA) and the Aurora Motor Vehicle Association (Australia) who averaged an amazing 91.81kph and 90.21kph, respectively. Additionally, the team set a new personal record for the longest, single-day distance ever traveled by a Michigan Solar Car Team by driving 762 km (473.2 miles) on Day 4 of the competition.

The team was very proud of their accomplishments at the 2001 World Solar Challenge and were honored to have represented the University of Michigan before such a large, international audience.

EECS congratulates all who were a part of this exciting project!