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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Solar Car Team Cruises to National Second-Place Finish

The Shine Runners spent a lot of time perfecting their new race car.
The Mansfield ISD solar car team is returning from a seven-day cross-country race as top performers.

MISD Shine Runners, consisting of 13 students and two teachers from Ben Barber Career and Technology Academy, came in second place at the 2016 Solar Car Challenge.

The Solar Car Challenge is an event where high school students across the nation can race the solar cars they design and build. The challenge alternates each year as either a closed-track event at the Texas Motor Speedway or a cross-country event.

“We have been preparing for the 2016 race for two years,” said Robert Goodson, advisor for the MISD Shine Runners. “I think this race is important because it gives students a great project and experience that puts into practice and reality all of the theory and skills we teach them in our classes.”

Students worked hard on their newest race car design, which they named Bahama Blue. The solar car was made lighter, built with stronger batteries, and was the first car of its type to have a continuous variable transmission (CVT).

“This was also the first solar car to have a push-rod suspension like an F1 race car,” Goodson continued. “All of these are the reasons we think we were awarded with the Lockheed Martin Award for Excellence in Engineering.”

The team received the runner-up trophy at a ceremony in Minnesota.
The Shine Runners easily passed the initial vehicle judging phase of the event and were ready to take Bahama Blue on the open road.

The cross-country race started in Fort Worth, Texas. Within the course of seven days, they drove through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and finally Minnesota, totaling 785.8 miles driven in the solar car.

“I was very proud of the students and the sponsors,” said principal Catherine Hudgins. “There is so much work that goes into this endeavor and so many things that can go wrong. This team and the sponsors get an A+ for problem solving and teamwork!”

The second place finish is the highest placement the Ben Barber team has ever achieved. Overcoming the challenges of the long trip made the win that much sweeter.

“I couldn't be prouder of the team,” said Goodman. “They earned every bit of that second place finish and put their blood, sweat, tears, hearts and souls into that car.

The Solar Car Challenge took place July 17-23. After some much-needed rest, the team will work to improve the car and hopefully train some new team members.