In the simplest of terms, NU Solar Team is composed of undergraduate students that design, build, promote, and rayce solar cars. (get it? sun ray…). Yet, as I thought about what I wanted to post today, it occurred to me that this summer would be my 3rd time participating in a rayce (The American Solar Challenge) with the team. As a junior, I can’t help but reminisce about my two years on the team … How these past years have made it impossible for me to define the team in the simplest of terms because, if anything, we are everything but simple.
The summer of 2008, fresh out of being a freshmen, was the first time I helped rayce the car. We were on our way to participate in the North American Solar Challenge – beginning in Plano, Texas and ending 2,400 miles away in Calgary, Canada. From the moment the rayce began, I realized it was going to be a tough road. This was a grueling competition, far more than any day-dreaming engineer could have expected. We had barely completed the car in time and nights on the road taught me the never to take a good night’s sleep for granted. As I fought the need to close one eye, the adrenaline of following a car that could have very well used a week of debugging kept me going. A few days in, showers, beds, and edible sustenance seemed to be commodities privy to a distant, more civilized world. The Sun was our fearless leader and the Solar Car, our creation, was our courageous companion. My time was spent mostly on the side of the road fixing the car and, through it all, I have rarely had so much fun. We were 13th out of the 15 teams that crossed the finish line.
With my first rayce under my belt, the spring of 2009 brought on a new challenge – the Formula Sun Grand Prix. Set in Crescent, Texas, FSGP is a three day track rayce and we placed 3rd out of 9 teams. After having done our best yet, I remember joining the team in screams of joy and amazement. We had had won a tense game of energy conservation in which we barely beat Waterloo for 3rd place. Nevertheless, as the sun must leave us every night, so did we have to leave and face reality. Going back to school and taking finals was quite the mood whiplash.
As I leave you with my memories and prepare myself mentally for what is to come, I would lie to you if I didn’t say I am waiting for the ASC 2010 with an elated sense of excitement. I hope you are to.