Solar Car was founded in the year 2013


 

Henry Howard
President & Founder 2014-2017

Kevin Ng
Team Advisor 2014-2016

 

Solar Car in the School Year 2016/2017

In the 2016-2017 season, a lot of what we did remained the same. We focused a lot more on having the rules memorized and we adjusted our organization so that each team had a chain of command with teams reporting between chains. Along with this, we as a team were confident in our abilities to build a car after winning our first year and because of that, we started to build a car without a true plan. With our previous car, we had three years of planning and we thought we could build a car from scratch in one. Our assumptions were by no means accurate, and this resulted in the team using the old car frame as a base to design the new car from. We knew the old car worked and if we had used experimental design we would have removed and replaced sets of parts making sure they work before moving on to another set, instead we took the old frame and redid everything. Taking what we knew worked out and putting in new parts for every last bit of the car. This proved unsuccessful and when we went to scrutineering at Texas Motor Speedway that year we couldn’t get our car to move on its own power.

After that resounding failure, we knew we had to have deadlines that needed to be met before we began construction on a new car. This led to us setting a deadline of the end of the first semester as to when our car design had to be finished. We had now gone from three years to plan the first car, one year for the second, and about four months for this car. We were resolutely unsuccessful, we had a decent portion of the primary and secondary electrical system designed out and had some semblance of design with the vehicle itself, but the deadline wasn’t going to be made. Besides the time crunch, one of the main reason we identified as to why we couldn’t make the deadline was that not enough of us knew the ins and outs of car design.

It was at this time that we decided to switch gears and the team began looking at the EV Grand Prix as a way to get this experience while also competing. We again set a lofty goal for ourselves to get out the competition that year, we didn’t. The EV Grand Prix operates on the basis that all teams order an electric kit kart which they then modify to make it the most efficient they can. At the competition, teams have to give presentations on their kart about energy efficiency, engineering design, and community outreach. These presentations along with the race itself are what determine the final standings.

With our experience from years prior, we knew we needed mentors to who understood fundamental vehicle mechanics so that we could understand the why behind what we were doing. We reached out to Toyota asking if they had anyone who could mentor us in the field of engineering as well as project management.

School Year 2015/2016

In 2015-2016 the Titan Solar Car Team competed in the Solar Car Challenge. That year's competition was a cross country race which started at the Texas Motor Speedway and ended at St. Thomas Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The team spent 100 hours a week that summer finalizing our design and building the car. In the race, we drove 229.6 miles taking first place by three-tenths of a mile. Once we completed the Chibikart the team started work on our vehicle for the solar car challenge. At this point we had only dipped our feet in the world of solar power and electric vehicles, so we went to workshops hosted by the solar car challenge to understand how teams designed their cars and what parts they recommended for it.

From here we worked from multiple months acquiring parts and tooling so that we could design and assemble preliminary parts of the vehicle. While the car was undergoing design changes the electrical team was wiring out the whole car; on the floor, we had a rough tapped out model of the car from which we set up the wiring for both the preliminary and secondary electrical systems. When the school year ended we had the design for the car done with a rough electrical system assembly waiting to go on the car.

On June 6th we got the ok from the district that we could start building our car. In the next 6 weeks, we spent almost every day at the school to get the car built for scrutineering on July 15th at Texas Motor Speedway. During scrutineering, we realized that our breaks were non-functional.

As a freshman team, we were allowed some leeway and we spent a race day fixing our breaks. From day two through seven we drove 229.6 miles and took first place by three-tenths of a mile. From this race, our main lessons learned were that we need everyone to have a full understanding of the rules and to compete next year we needed to have a lot more organization between teams.

Before 2015?

Before we competed in 2016 the team spent the previous years planning out the build for the car and working on small scale projects to gain skills we would on the solar car. One of the first projects we did was installing solar panels at the Outdoor Learning Center in Plano. This experience gave us a wealth of knowledge on how solar panel systems would be put together and how to control the power coming in. The second experience was the Chibikart, this was a small one person go-kart was powered on 4 small 12v batteries. This was our dive into designing an electric vehicle.