After three years of hard work, the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Group took first place in the USS Solar Challenge (ACC) on 20 August in the Single Operation Vehicle (SV) category. In a five-day race, their Nimbus solar-powered, fully built student-run vehicle struck eight other schools across the country, crossing 1,109 miles and averaging 38.4 miles per hour.

Held every two years, the ASC is traditionally outdated. This year, however, the race went a long way. Each group followed the same pattern from Freedom, Missouri to Las Vegas, New Mexico. But teams can drive more miles in each of the three stages – if the battery has enough juice to continue. Nimbus is more than 100 miles from the University of Kentucky, the nearest runner.

“It’s still a little bit,” said SEVT Captain Aditia Mihrara, who is growing in electrical engineering and computer science. “We were all hopeful, but I don’t think they will compete like we did. More ‘We will do our best and see how we can be.’ In this way we are truly fortunate to do well. The car worked beautifully, and most of all – the team worked beautifully and we learned a lot.

Teamwork makes the dream come true

Two weeks before the ASC race, every solar car was entered at the Formula Sun Grand Prix at Heartland Motorsports Park in Tokyo, Kansas, at the Fola Sun Grand Prix. First, vehicles had to undergo a series of tests called “screening.” Past cars can compete in track racing, hoping to qualify for the ACC. Nimbus finished second in a total of 239 rounds in three days (equivalent to 597.5 miles) around the track.

In the process, SEVT member and growing-up in mechanical engineering junior Cameron Kokesh tied the Illinois State driver around the truck for three minutes and 19 seconds. Although she does not rest on her laurels. She said with a smile, “It will be wonderful to see that we can win that next race.”

The performance of Fomla Sun Grand Prix and ACC Numbus is a testament to the team’s ability to not only design and build advanced solar vehicles, but also other skills as well as logistics, communications and teamwork management. “It’s a big surgery,” Merora says. It’s not like we drive the car directly on the highway during the race.

Indeed, Nimbus traveled in seven spectacular vehicles with two dozen members. A Scout vehicle is in front of the road and weather conditions, followed by a steering wheel. Nimbus is the third largest caravan in the caravan, with the development team managing activities such as telemetry tracking, how much solar panels generate power and managing the rest of the distance and target speeds. Bringing back is a support vehicle with a truck and trailer, a media truck, and a “cupcake”, food, supplies, and camp equipment.

The team led the three-week event and spent three years designing, constructing, refining and experimenting with Nimbus. (The ACC was scheduled for 2020, but was postponed until later this year due to the VV-19 epidemic.) He spent countless hours working, working, building, and repeating the N51 building at the MIT Edgerton Center Machine Shop. In the Great Boston area, they drove to Salem, Massachusetts and Cape Cod. In the spring, they traveled to Palmer Motors Sports Park in Palmer, Massachusetts, to practice different races. They performed tests such as the Salamo test and eight tests, conducted team operations to facilitate the implementation of the caravan, and, of course, the Kedun.

“It’s true,” said Mehrora. “I hope nothing big will fall!”

The road ahead

At the end of the competition, Mehora officially stepped down and gave SEVT officials to the new leaders: Kotesh will take the lead as team captain, and will serve as vice captain of Ocean Engineer High School Sydney. The long journey back from the Middle West gave them time to think about victory and future plans.

Although Nimbus performed well, there were some teacher shortcomings here and there, especially during testing. But the group could not stand it. For example, the hood does not always hold, so a clear acrylic foam will cover the driver. (He did a little spring adjustment and tape.) In addition, Nimbus had a tendency to slip when the driver hit the brakes. (Improved driver training by releasing some air from the tires.)

Then there were unpredictable variables outside the control of the group. One day, in the little sun, Nimbus had to travel only 15 miles an hour on the highway. And there was a time when Kansas State police were dragging the entire caravan. Mehrora: “They did not know we were coming.

Kim thinks Nimbus is the key to the team’s success. “We had no tires on the road. After the car rolled over, things did not go wrong mechanically or electrically. It is also lightweight and the shape of the vehicle is very airy so it is very energy efficient. It allows us to drive 40 miles per hour on a beautiful sunny day: the battery stays charged at the same rate, ”she said.

The next ASC will be held in 2022, so this year the team will focus on clearing Nimbus to compete again next summer. Also, they have set their sights on building a car to enter the 2024 multiplayer MOV category – something the team has never done. “It takes three years to build a good car to compete,” said Coke Moses. But after doing well in this competition, it’s a really good transition period, so our team is happy about that.

“It will be challenging for them, but I will not put anything beyond them,” said Edgerton Center Technical Teacher and Store Manager, who works with all student clubs and teams, from solar vehicles to formula racing cars. Rockets. He also attended ASC, and is highly regarded by SEVT. “He is a complete student. They do all the design and machinery themselves. I feel like I always tell people that my job is just to make sure they have 10 fingers when they leave the store.

Meanwhile, before the start of the school year, SEVT has another test – deciding where to place the trophy. “It’s too big,” says McTamney. “It’s like a Stanley Cup!”