Exploring Solar and Efficient Automotive Design at Glencoe Winter Workshop

Written and Submitted by Ali Dahmes, West Central YES! Coordinator

On Wednesday, December 6, 2017, nine students and their coach from the Glencoe-Silver Lake (GSL) YES! Team came together to learn about renewable and efficient automotive design practices at Glencoe-Silver Lake High School.

Paul Steevens, an engineering specialist with Minnesota State University Mankato Automotive Technology Department, began the morning educating students how to successfully build and alter an automobile. He taught the students how to continually make their vehicles better year after year, by questioning everything that more experienced students have completed in the past.  Not only did he inspire students to take action in building efficient vehicles, he also educated them about the systems he tests for efficiency, everything from a modern car to a forklift and an airport luggage vehicle!

Next, students heard from multiple engineering students from the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project. GSL students also heard what U of M students are creating throughout their college careers. They heard what it takes to build a solar vehicle, the competition process, and all the nuts and bolts of building a solar vehicle. They talked about some of the world races the Solar Vehicle Project has competed in (they just got home from Australia) along with describing the experience of working on a solar car team (it is like a mini family).  Students also got to examine parts of the solar vehicles that the team handmade! Then, Aaron Busse from a local company called MN Renewable Energies Inc, spoke to the students about how solar panels function and all the options for use on the team’s boat and vehicles.

Following the presentations, the students showed the presenters their current supermileage vehicles and solar boat. They got to ask presenters questions and hear suggestions that could make their vehicles more efficient in the competition this spring. They finished their day with time to discuss project goals, review the competition rules, and plan the year ahead!

All of the topics discussed will be applicable to GSL as the students design their own vehicles for the 30th Annual MTEEA Supermileage Challenge in Brainerd this year. The YES! Program is excited to see what vehicles the team develops this year for supermileage!

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