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


Alum takes part in World Solar Challenge in Australia

Posted: October 14, 2015

Alum takes part in World Solar Challenge in Australia The U-M solar car is named Aurum. (Photo courtesy of U-M Solar Car Team)

The U-M solar car racing team hit the starting line on October 17 for the World Solar Challenge — an 1,800-mile journey through the Australian Outback.

Alumnus Jeff Cwagenberg, the team meteorologist, recently spoke with the University Record about how the weather, and the team's ability to forecast it and respond to it, can play a major role in the race outcome.

"During the race, it's all about choosing the fastest way to make it to the finish line. If you know that further down the route you are going to be experiencing clouds, it could be advantageous to drive slower under the sun — saving battery for when you can't rely on the sun," Cwagenberg said.

Through a partnership with IBM Research, this year the team will utilize unique solar energy forecasting technology that's expected to improve its weather predictions and give a better sense of how much power the team can expect from the sun. The real-time energy forecasts will help the students set strategy about how fast to drive and when to stop and recharge.

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