Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


Solar Car Team rebounds from crash to finish race

Posted: October 11, 2013

Solar Car Team rebounds from crash to finish race

By Nicole Casal Moore

A lesson in resilience is what the U-M Solar Car Team will bring home from Australia after this year’s international race across the continent.

After a disappointing crash in a drainage ditch about two-thirds of the way through the World Solar Challenge, the students lifted their heads, took out their tools, fixed their car and finished.

The asymmetrical vehicle named Generation caught a strong wind gust while rounding a curve into one of the last checkpoints near the South Australia town of Coober Pedy. No one was hurt.

To get Generation back on the road, the students had to reinforce its cracked inner ribs. Then they drove figure eights in a parking lot to make sure it was safe to drive.

The team was in seventh place when the accident happened, and Generation finished ninth at about 12:30 a.m. EDT on Friday, October 11, which was around 3 PM in Adelaide, Australia.

AOSS students Jeff Cwagenberg and Kyle Chudler are on the team. Cwagenberg is the team meteorologist and student Chudler is one of the drivers and works on team media. Professor Aaron Ridley is the faculty advisor and traveled with the team to Australia.

The 1,800-mile World Solar Challenge, which takes place every other year, began Oct. 5 (Oct. 6 in Australia). First and second place went to perennial powerhouse teams Nuon from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and Tokai University in Japan, respectively.

In the race’s history, U-M's team has come in third five times, most recently in 2011. It has finished first in the North American Solar Challenge seven times, most recently in 2012. Major sponsors this year include General Motors, Ford, IMRA, the College of Engineering, Qatar Airways and Siemens. With more than 100 students involved from across the university, it’s one of the largest student organizations on campus.


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