Collaborating with Daniel Prosser

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While surfing his RC plane forums in his spare time, Chief Engineer Dan Cornew came across something that he thought we could use for our solar car: a computer program that might help us optimize the aerodynamic design of our car. He contacted Daniel Prosser, a graduate student at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and Prosser kindly agreed to collaborate with us.

Prosser’s program uses a solver out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) called XFoil along with a genetic algorithm.  In general, genetic algorithms (like this one) generate optimized solutions by playing a game of “Survival of the Fittest” with solutions. Starting with a set of randomly generated solutions, the best move on to the next round, where they will be modified or combined into new solutions. The game continues until only one contestant remains. In this game, the prize goes to the game hosts, rather than the contestants, and we get the best aerodynamic shape for our solar car.
Our Aero Designer, Matthew Filak, is also in on the action since he has been very involved in our aerodynamics optimization. We would like to say thank you to Prosser for allowing us to utilize his code and for taking the time to build a tutorial. We anticipate beautiful, aerodynamically-sound results to come.

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