U-M solar car team wins Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge
Written by Ben Logan
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates—After racing through city streets and the desert for three days, the University of Michigan solar car team narrowly won the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge – the squad’s first victory on an international stage.
Partnering with students from the University of Abu Dhabi, the team’s “Quantum” car crossed the line first on the final day of racing on Jan. 18 and finished with an overall victory margin of about two-and-a-half minutes.
The squad competed against 15 teams from six continents in the race in the United Arab Emirates, a country slightly smaller than Maine located on the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula. Abu Dhabi is the nation’s capital.
“The last day was the longest, hottest, hardest but the most satisfying,” said driver Noah Kaczor, a fourth-year economics major at U-M. “It was a big relief crossing the finish line first. I’m proud and impressed by how well we’ve done.”
The team has a history of strong performances in global solar competitions, but this is the first race it has won on an international stage. Bringing students and alumni together on a team is another first for the student-run organization.
“What’s really neat is that we’ve taken a legacy car that was never intended to be competitive at this point, a team of people who have never raced together, and came out here and battled hard against some amazing competitors,” said Joe Lambert, crew chief and 2004 U-M aerospace engineering graduate. “It speaks to the depth and the integrity of the program that we’ve built. You can step back in, and the heartbeat is still the same. The idea is still the same.”
The team also made history by partnering with Abu Dhabi University. More than a dozen ADU engineering students joined the U-M squad throughout the event. These students spent countless hours working alongside the team, learning about the technology, mechanics and strategy that define a successful solar car organization.
“This was a really, really good experience, and it was fun learning about how the car works,” said Mohamed Mukhashin, a fourth-year ADU mechanical engineering student. “Everyone was very friendly and it was impressive to watch their work ethic. Hopefully, in two years, we will have our own car and be able to be in the race with our new friends.”
Jeff Ferman, team manager and 2008 U-M graduate in computer science engineering, said, “Watching the Michigan spirit pull through and people pull closer and closer together has showcased exactly what we’ve got out of this program—and exactly what we’ve built this program to do.
“One of the things that drove us to come here was the opportunity to help grow the community. The chance to come back and help get another team started, and then be able to see them compete would be really exciting.”
The team was awarded their trophy by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi at the opening ceremonies of the 2015 World Future Energy Summit, which kicks off Abu Dhabi Sustainability week. Quantum will be on display in various venues through the weeklong event.
Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge: adsolarchallenge.org
World Energy Summit: worldfutureenergysummit.com
U-M solar team ADSC web portal: dme.engin.umich.edu/adsc
Photo album on Flickr: myumi.ch/L388J
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