July 18, 2012
For the first time in university history, a Michigan State University team competed in the American Solar Challenge (ASC) cross-country race.
The ASC, which is held biennially, is a competition in which collegiate teams design, build, and race solar-powered cars in a cross-country event. The Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP), held annually, is a three-day track racing event and qualifier for the ASC.
Last year, five members of the solar car team competed in the 2011 FSGP held in May in Indianapolis, Ind. They completed 207 laps over two days, totaling 186.3 miles. They tied for 7th place with Western Michigan University, out of ten teams.
At this year's FSGP in July in Monticello, N.Y., the MSU team's car, Brasidius, finished 11th out of 15 teams and qualified for the 1,600-mile cross-country race. The MSU team also won the slalom event with the fastest time of 9.3 seconds.
While Brasidius did not complete the road competition, James Miller, the team's project manager, says, "I am glad we were able to push MSU Solar further than ever before. You can expect to see growing momentum by ASC 2014."
And there is something even more important than how a team places—or even if they finish the race; the competition is a learning experience, and team camaraderie is a hallmark of these races. The competitors never hesitate to help each other out by sharing advice, support, tools, or even car parts.
In addition to Miller, MSU team members are: Ethan Akerly, Hasan Alali, Alex Benson, Matt Beutler, Meng Cao, Daniel Howarth, Colin Monroe, Scott O'Connor, Miles Turrell, and Steve Zajac.
The MSU team has begun work on the design and construction of their new car. They plan to compete in the 2013 Formula Sun Grand Prix and the 2014 American Solar Challenge.