ANU takes on world in epic outback solar race

Posted 3 Oct 2017

Story by CBR Canberra

Imagine competing in a 3,000km race across the harsh Australian outback, in a vehicle completely powered by the sun.

Doesn’t sound like the easiest of feats does it?

But that’s exactly what students from the Australian National University (ANU) will do in their bid to win the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

Now in its 30th year, the race brings together competitors from various secondary and tertiary institutions from around the world, to battle it out across the Australian outback and complete the marathon journey from Darwin to Adelaide in a solar powered car.

The ANU team will take part in the challenge for the first time this year and are hoping their solar car, the MTAA Super Sol Invictus, will have what it takes to outrace the likes of Stanford and Cambridge universities. The MTAA Super Sol Invictus will compete in the ‘Challenger’ class and feature a slick and aerodynamic design, built for sustained endurance and total energy efficiency.

Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, says the ACT Government is helping to fund the ANU team and promote Canberra as a sustainable and innovative city.

“We’re providing $20,000 to help the ANU team in its pitch to win the internationally renowned race,”

Minister Rattenbury said. “Our contribution recognises the strong linkages between this exciting, student-led project and the ACT’s leadership in innovation, renewable energy and higher education.”

With the ACT on track to reach its target of 100% renewable electricity by 2020, the challenge will be the perfect opportunity to highlight the capital as a global leader in the move to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

Engineering student and Sol Invictus team leader, Emily Rose Rees, says this project has allowed her to contribute to Canberra’s sustainability efforts and gain valuable experience as a woman in the industry.

“This project is all about innovation and sustainability, so having the opportunity to be a leader on this project has been great exposure to the industry,” Emily Rose said.

“I have gained experience in leading a technical project focussed on sustainability and I’m hoping it will inspire more girls and women to look into STEM subjects.”

Sol Invictus built their solar car entirely from scratch, which Emily Rose says was one of the biggest challenges of the project.

“Because this was our first time entering, we didn’t have an older vehicle to improve on or test designs on, so we’ve had to work hard as a team to develop the capacity to actually design and build a solar powered vehicle,” said Emily Rose.

But Emily Rose says the project has provided a very hands-on experience, giving the students an opportunity to use the knowledge and skills they’ve learnt throughout their studies.

“This project really allowed us all to put into practice everything we’ve learnt in class. It’s the biggest student led project at the ANU and we’ve had over 30 students from a variety of different disciplines working on it to give us a large and diverse team,” says Emily.

Fellow team member, Dominic D’Castro, says the project has been the perfect opportunity to apply his skills and work alongside a team in a practical setting.

“I have not only been able to practice my engineering knowledge, but apply it in a team environment. We’ve had to overcome a lot of hurdles as a team, but by combining our skillsets and working together, we have been able to finish the car to a really high standard,” Dominic said.

The MTAA Super Sol Invictus team will compete in the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge from Darwin to Adelaide taking place from October 8-15.

For more information on the MTAA Super Sol Invictus team, visit the website.

For more information in the 2017 World Solar Challenge, visit the website.

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