Each summer, high schoolers from across the country descend on Fort Worth, Texas, for the Solar Car Challenge. They race hundreds of miles in solar-powered electric cars that they design and build themselves.
Sebastian Gonzalez is with the Iron Lions — a team from Greenville, Texas, that won its division in last year’s race from Fort Worth to El Paso.
He says they spent the school year creating a car that can charge up on solar alone — and is efficient and fast.
Gonzalez: “It’s not just the solar energy that you’re dealing with, but you’re also dealing with battery chemistries … and electronics that will drain as minimal power from an electrical system as possible.”
Their car looked almost like a solar panel on wheels, with a pod for the driver peeking out the center.
Gonzalez says people along the route were amazed to learn that their DIY creation could reach speeds of more than 70 miles an hour.
Gonzalez: “When we told them our car can run from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon when the race ends and we still have some battery left, these people get really, really shocked.”
Now Gonzalez’s team is busy preparing for this year’s race.
He says what he and other participants are learning through the process can prepare them to help design and engineer a cleaner energy future.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media