Yesterday, July 3rd, 2017, marked the first day of FSGP 2017. It was a busy day that was spent primarily on fixing up SC6 in the hopes of passing scrutineering as early as possible. While NUsolar still has yet to complete all the requirements, the team is confident that we will be able to receive a blue or green sticker for the remaining categories.
In our down time, I was able to speak with Sylvia Fu, a rising senior on the team. Fu is pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering and will be the Electrical Lead for the 2017-2018 school year.
Fu joined NUsolar her sophomore year when one of her friends, a former member of the business team, introduced her to the team. Even though her friend would later leave the team, Fu stayed.
"It's a very good learning opportunity," Fu explained. "Northwestern's engineering program, while very good, is much more theoretical rather than practical to actual engineering experience. I've gained a lot of practical experience here."
NUsolar provides a hands on experience in a variety of subjects, but the knowledge necessary to succeed in each field comes from upperclassmen on the team. For Fu, the person who taught and inspired her the most was Spencer Williams. Williams, who graduated in 2016, was the former Project Manager and Electrical Lead. Fu emphasized that Williams was like a mentor to her, and that she might not have wanted to stay if it wasn't for him.
"Plus, they had strawberry cream cheese!" Fu laughed. "It was the first time I had bagels, and now I really like them."
As the future Electrical Lead, Fu will be expected to perform several duties without much guidance. In order to prepare her for the future, the current Project Manager and Electrical Lead (Alexander Martin and Ben Donahue, respectively) took a step back this race and let Fu lead. However, this race, FSGP 2017, is Fu's first. When asked what she thought about her first day, Fu said that "it was much more intense than expected. The weather is also really hard to work in, because it's so hot, which means we're dehydrated and have no energy."
"But I'm proud," Fu continued, "because I believe the electrical team grew a lot. Leadership is not about knowing everything, but is actually about knowing what members know and can do, and assigning them tasks that they're good at. We might not have many members, but each one is very familiar in their own area of expertise."
Despite being new to races, Fu was able to adequately prepare for scrutineering, thus simultaneously becoming acquainted with her new responsibilities. She will be taking this new knowledge into the next school year, in which the team will be focused on building our next car, Seven. In fact, Fu is most excited to have the chance to work on Seven.
"It's nice to be building a new car-- I think it's challenging, but also interesting," Fu elaborated. "Since I joined the team, we've always been working on SC6. We're always trying to fix it and add new things, but most of it is the same.... But, we only have one year to build. Even though mechanical is mostly done, electrical has not done much, so it's going to be challenging. Luckily, Ben [Donahue, current Electrical Lead] and Alexander [Martin, current Project Manager] can still help out, but they won't be around a lot."
Fu also has a few more goals for her senior year. "I want to be able to teach the members what I know and pass on my knowledge, since our documentation was not that good before," she said. "I also want to recruit a lot more freshmen, and I want them to stay. I want to see our newer members, like Charlie [Costakis, 2020] and Akash [Borde, 2019], grow and become leaders of electrical."
When she was a sophomore going into the summer before her junior year, Williams asked Fu if she was interested in a leadership position. At the time, Fu said she felt like she didn't know enough to be a good leader. This year, however, she is much more confident and really looking forward to the new car.
Just like Fu, the team is eager to see where next year's leadership and Seven will take us, and just like Fu, we are confident in her ability to lead us in the right direction.
For more pictures from the first day of scrutineering, check out our Facebook post and be sure to leave a like to stay updated with all things NUsolar.