The Rice University Solar Car club charged out of the blocks and won second place in its first Shell Eco-marathon Americas over the weekend. Rice finished behind a team from Newburgh (N.Y.) Free Academy in the prototype solar category.
The team overcame a series of obstacles that dogged it right up until the start of the downtown Houston event, in which they made multiple attempts to drive 6 miles — 10 laps around the Discovery Green track — within 24 minutes and 15 seconds. Cars were judged not so much for speed as for efficiency in each of the categories, which also included gas, diesel, electric and alternative fuels. Even before reaching the track on Thursday, club members pulled a series of all-nighters at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen to configure solar panels that arrived days before the event and had to be painstakingly pieced together. The team was successful in its first trial on Saturday; it finished the course in the allotted time, but Shell’s joulemeters refused to display the amount of energy gathered by the solar panels, the main criteria for judging. On the second run, the car driven by Duncan College senior Kerry Wang broke an axle on the third lap. With fixes in place, the team completed a series of runs on Sunday. “We’re very excited to have been able to accomplish this in our first ever solar car race, and we’ve learned a lot in the process,” said club co-president and Duncan College sophomore Allison Garza. “We’re looking forward to designing and building more cars in the future and representing Rice in competitions around the country and, eventually, around the world.”
- The Rice Solar Car team brought its vehicle, RSC Enterprise, to the Shell Eco-marathon Americas for the first time this year. The team finished second in the prototype solar class.