A team of TAFE SA Electrical and Engineering students have designed and produced the solar car SolarSpirit Australia, and are racing in the 2011 World Solar Challenge this week.
As the sole South Australian entrant, SolarSpirit Australia will travel 3000 kilometres from Darwin to Adelaide using power only from the sun, competing against teams from around the world.
Team Leader Gerry Paay said students have dedicated the last two years designing, engineering and building the SolarSpirit Australia as part of their core curriculum.
“The solar car design and construction are embedded in the Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics and Fabrication programs and our students have benefitted from this unique project. Students have gained a real appreciation of renewable and sustainable energy practices and have put their skills and knowledge into a very real practical application, resulting in the completion of our new vehicle”, Mr Paay said.
“SolarSpirit Australia differentiates itself from most of the other solar vehicles as it is designed to function more like a conventional car, for example it is able to seat three people rather than one or two. This demonstrates the possibilities of future energy efficient transport opportunities”.
TAFE SA’s solar car project is linked to the South Australian Government initiative Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Skills Strategy, aimed at increasing the supply of people taking up STEM occupations to meet the growing needs and demands of our local industries, including engineering and defence.
SolarSpirit Australia promotes TAFE SA’s Renewable Energy Centre at the Regency Campus and the Engineering training facility and is attracting more people into science, technology, engineering and maths in vocational training.
Working with limited finances the team is not expecting to finish ahead of the well-funded international teams; however, it is confident the experience gained from previous events will help take SolarSpirit Australia all the way to the finish line with a top 10 placing.
The World Solar Challenge is a truly collaborative event with TAFE SA Sport and Recreation students preparing project work in relation to catering, event management and logistics leading up to the race.
Teams commenced racing from Darwin on Sunday 16 October 2011, with the teams to finish in Adelaide by Sunday 23 October 2011.
Find out more about the TAFE SA Solar Car project