A mere three minutes away from the end of the 2017 Formula Sun Grand Prix, one car finally made its way up the massive incline at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX. As the car triumphantly crested the 133 foot long hill, the cheers rose to deafening levels, not just from the Solar Gators team, but from participating teams from across North America.
This summer, the Solar Gators design team overcame time constraints and multiple engineering challenges to become the first team from the Sunshine State to enter a solar-powered car at the annual Formula Sun Grand Prix. For their efforts, the 18 attending team members were recognized with an “Overcoming Adversity” award, and their unrelenting resolve to get on the track and register a lap garnered the respect and admiration of race officials and competitors alike.
The Solar Gators are composed of students from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; the Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering; and more. Dr. Michael W. Griffis of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering served as the faculty advisor.
After being originally founded in 2011, Solar Gators lay dormant from 2014 until four students resurrected the team in Fall 2016. With dedicated members and the support of the MAE department, the team competed in 2017 against all odds. Solar Gators will continue pursuing excellence by enriching members with the experience necessary to build an even more competitive car for future competitions.