” I joined the NUsolar team because I wanted to be part of a team that was doing something really cool and cutting-edge. I love the hands-on aspect of this kind of engineering and I believe it will end up being a valuable part of my education here at Northwestern University. This quarter, I’m leading the software team. We are designing new car code on the Arduino Platform and I hope that we can finish this year with a strong software foundation that the team can build upon in the future” — Alexander (2015 Software Team leader)
The Northwestern University Solar Car Team (NUsolar) is an undergraduate student organization that designs, builds, and races solar-powered vehicles. The team is currently building its seventh solar car, codename SC7, to compete in the American Solar Challenge and Formula Sun Grand Prix.
Our objective is to enhance the education and career preparation for Northwestern students by providing hands-on project management, design, and manufacturing experience in addition to providing an outlet for students to demonstrate their skills and commitment to potential employers. We also promote alternative energy by increasing the “green” energy awareness in the community and demonstrating the feasibility of solar power.
NUsolar is a completely student-run organization, so team members can take on a wide spectrum of responsibilities including engineering, manufacturing, operations, marketing and finance. As a result, the team attracts students from several departments in the McCormick School of Engineering, as well as other schools at Northwestern. Being on the team allows students to gain real-world experience which is relevant in any career: they must learn how to operate in a specialized team and work within budgets and deadlines, all while confronting the unpredictable surprises that only an authentic, real-life project can throw at you.
The team is divided into three major divisions:
- The mechanical team designs and implements mechanical aspects of the car, such as the suspension, steering and frame. Students on this team learn how to design parts in CAD software, run computer simulations (such as for aerodynamics or strength) and use computer-aided manufacturing.
- The electrical team designs and implements electronic aspects of the car, such as the drivers instruments, solar array and batteries. Students on this team learn how to use circuit design software, troubleshoot electronics using an oscilloscope and program software to run a car.
- The sponsorship team communicates with corporations and potential donors to procure the funds and resources needed to construct solar cars.
- The publicity team maintains our website and blog, updating information and adding new content. Students gain experience with technical journalism and are responsible for photographing and filming the activities of the team. They design fliers and pamphlets to spread the word about NUsolar.
NUsolar was founded in 1997 and raced its first car, SolarCat, in Sunrayce 1999. Since then, the team has built 5 other cars and competed in over 10 solar car races. To find out more about our history, take a look at our Past Cars section.
We’re always on the lookout for new talent, so if you’re interested in joining us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or come say hello at our weekly work session, which you can find the time and location of on the Join Us page.