It’s a new year at Northwestern, and new years bring new friends, new challenges, and new cars. This year NUsolar will be designing our seventh solar car as well as preparing SC6 for its final and long-awaited race. We will be increasing our involvement in outreach and publicity events, with the help of 10 or so new members who have joined this year. So much is already going on—mechanical suspension and frame designs, concept art for the seventh car, trailer training, website maintenance, electrical testing, planning for outreach events, and more. And so much is yet to come.
New Team Leaders
Spencer Williams (center; ’16 Computer Engineering) is the Project Manager this year, as well as Electrical Team Lead. Helping him as Assistant Project Managers are Nathan Lindquist (left; ’18 Computer Science) and Alexander Martin (right; ’17 Mechanical Engineering). These three manage all the personnel on the team and make sure that projects get done by each of the subteams.
The design process for our seventh generation solar vehicle begin this past summer and is already well underway. The mechanical team is working on frame and suspension designs and plans to have them finalized by the end of winter quarter this year, so that we can start building the car in the spring. The electrical team is working on telemetry software and upgrading boards on SC6. We plan to carry over many of the electrical systems from SC6 to the seventh car. Check out the cool concept art for the seventh vehicle.
NUsolar is using two new tools this year to help us manage our projects. The first tool is Trello. Trello is an online bulletin board app that allows you to organize projects and tasks and keep track of what is being done. We can set due dates and attach pdfs or files from Google Drive. All team members can comment on cards and can ask each other questions, without need to send 1,100 emails back and forth. Trello is sponsoring our team by giving a business class account, so that we can control which teams see which boards. For more information, visit Trello.com.
The second tool we are using is GrabCAD. Called by many the “GitHub for CAD,” GrabCAD is a now-free collaboration app for CAD files. It allows us to automatically track and compare versions of our models. It supports all major CAD formats, and has an online viewer so people without a CAD program can view the files. It also has a desktop client and SolidWorks integration.
NUsolar has already been involved a several outreach and publicity events this quarter, and we have several more planned. We participated in the 2015 Evanston Green Living Festival, where we talked to the Evanston community about who we are and what we do. We also had a table at the McCormick Student Activities Fair. We got to talk to prospective members about what they can do on the team.
Later in fall quarter we will be participating in the Green Living Expo at McHenry Country College (Nov. 7th). Illinois State Solar Car Team (prISUm) participated in this event last year and the organizers are excited to have a second solar car joining them. We will also be hosting an outreach event at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in conjunction with Exelon Corporation of Chicago. Exelon is sponsoring a mini-solar-car race for middle and high schoolers, and we will attend the event with SC6, talk to the kids about what we do, and help present prizes to the winners.