Iowa State's Team PrISUm races 300 miles in solar challenge

Participants build their own solar cars and race approximately 2,000 miles across eight days. | File photo
Team PrISUm students from Iowa State University recently raced 300 miles on race day at the American Solar Challenge near St. Louis.

Unfortunately, the students were just 5 miles away from the finish line when they had to charge their battery pack. The care, Phaeton 2, was just 20 percent charged when the race began. The students attributed the malfunction to a charging problem. Because of this concern, the students also missed the bonus charging time during the race. Instead, the team spent the day trying to fix their battery charge, solar array, weather, speed, and energy consumption; they used a variety of calculations and strategies to finish the second stage on schedule.

“But 5 miles out we ran out of juice,” Matt Goode, a senior from Coggon who’s studying materials science and engineering and the project director for the team, said.

The race took contestants through Wilson’s National Battlefield located in Republic, close to Springfield. Participants build their own solar cars and race approximately 2,000 miles across eight days.

The team showed perseverance, as they continued racing the car even when it was so depleted of power than it only drove 5 mph.

“We were really scraping the bottom of the cells,” Goode said. “We weren’t going to give up. You don’t give up.”

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