Solar cars roll through Goshen
Posted: 07/18/2012 at 9:20 am
By: Marshall V. King
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A solar car race team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology charges its car during a stop in Goshen Wednesday morning. The team is one of 11 in the American Solar Challenge.
Truth Photo By Marshall V. King
Kelly Ran, right, solders part of the solar car as Abu Bakar Abid helps. The two are part of the team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology that is racing in the American Solar Challenge. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
The team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology was recharging batteries Wednesday morning in the parking lot of Plymouth United Church of Christ, 902 S. Main St. Another team was spotted nearby working on its vehicle.
Fourteen students and alumni are on the MIT team traveling from Rochester, N.Y., to St. Paul, Minn., this week in American Solar Challenge, according to MIT team captain Ben Arensen.
The race pits college teams against each other. Eleven teams are traveling a meandering route by driving nine hours a day, Arensen said. The vehicles are all powered by six square meters of solar panels. The MIT car is a 380-pound, three-wheel vehicle called Chopper del Sol. A driver who fits in the small cockpit underneath the fiberglass and solar panels pilots the car, which can travel up to 50 mph, Arensen said.
Four gas-powered support vehicles are traveling with the solar car.
Wednesday morning the solar panels were pointed toward the morning sun for two hours to charge lithium ion batteries.
The car was third in this stage, said Arensen. The stage is from Kalamazoo to Normal, Ill., traveling south on S.R. 15 through Goshen. But due to a crash near the beginning of the race, the MIT team is in last place.
Itís not all about speed and winning. ďFor most people, itís a chance to build a car you get to race,Ē said Arensen, a junior mechanical engineering student.
ďAnd itís fun,Ē said Daniel Meza, another team member.
ďWeíre all pretty much engineering students. Itís what we love to do,Ē Arensen said.