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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Impact Award: Career Tech Instructors Soar with Solar Power

When Jackie Bishop was researching home solar panels online last spring, he came across a project that would soon make Mansfield ISD history.

The Solar Car Challenge was founded to motivate students in science, engineering, technology and alternative energy – plus, it involves some pretty cool race cars!

After discovering the challenge, Bishop, an Auto Tech teacher at Ben Barber Career Tech Academy, quickly enlisted the help of Rob Goodson, an Engineering teacher on campus. The enthusiastic duo recruited a group of about twenty-five students to form “The Shine Runners,” MISD’s first ever solar car team.

Their mission was to design and construct a solar car to compete in the Solar Car Challenge, which is held at Texas Motor Speedway each summer. Since forming in 1993, the competition has grown from a high school extracurricular activity to a national event drawing over 65 schools from 20 states.

As construction on the car kicked off at the end of the school year, Bishop and Goodson enlisted the help of students from auto tech, engineering, media tech, graphic design, welding and construction; each of whom offered a level of expertise in their area.

In addition to uniting students from across the campus, the solar car project drew interest and support from several community businesses, including Mouser Electronics, The Power Store, ExelTech and Lockheed Martin. These sponsors contributed to the success of the project through donations of funds, equipment and even brain power.

A senior electrical engineer from ExelTech logged about 300 hours working closely with the students.

“It was a huge benefit to work with industry professionals,” said Bishop. “They learned about technology we wouldn’t typically learn in class. The experience they gained from this is something they will never forget.”

The team worked long hours throughout the summer, to ensure the car would be ready for its debut at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Shine Runners emerged victorious from their first race, with the 6th place title and the prestigious William Shih Award, presented to the solar car team with the highest level of technological achievement.

“It was probably the safest one out there,” said Goodson of the solar car. “It may not be the fastest, but it was most structurally sounds and had the best overall features. We are very proud of them for that.”

Following the success of their first race, the Shine Runners are already looking forward to their next challenge. They plan to take part in an eight-day cross-country race from Dallas to Los Angeles in July of 2013.

On behalf of the Mansfield ISD Administration, we wish the Shine Runnners the best of luck in their future challenges and we congratulate their fearless leaders, Jackie Bishop and Rob Goodson, for receiving our latest MISD Impact Award! They have truly earned their place in the sun.