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Challenges Faced By The Undergraduate Solar Car Team At Middle Tennessee State University

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.141.1 - 5.141.8



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B.S. Sridhara

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3248Ã

Challenges Faced by the Undergraduate Solar Car Team at Middle Tennessee State University

B. S. Sridhara Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU)


Our solar car team at MTSU comprises mainly of Engineering Technology students. The Solaraider III (MTSU’s third solar car) is a 19-ft-long, 6-ft-wide and 4-ft-high vehicle. The project provided many challenges to the team in several areas including design and analysis, fabrication, assembly and testing. electricity and electronics, and fund raising. Faculty advisors for the solar car team were faced with difficult tasks such as recruitment and retention of students, curriculum integration of the project, and fund raising. We built the Solaraider II in 1997 and participated in the Sunrayce 97 qualifier in Indianapolis. Our car did not pass the braking test because it weighed 1250 lb and the braking system was not adequate. The overweight of the solar car was mainly because of the fiberglass body, array and nose. The Solaraider III team was faced with the task of reducing the weight, installing new brakes and reducing the friction at all joints. Unlike many big schools, we do not have resources to build the car using carbon fiber and titanium. However, we have several industry sponsors whose facilities and service we utilized to make necessary changes. We fabricated the frame for the array using aluminum tubing. The frame was covered with thin, perforated aluminum sheet clad with aircraft-grade Dacron. In this process, we worked with the faculty and students from the aerospace department. We mounted the solar panels on the 91-square-foot array and rewired them. We fabricated the body and nose with light PVC tubing and Dacron. We machined new large size rotors and installed motor cycle master cylinders and calipers. We replaced all steel bushings of the front suspension with Teflon bushings. This author recruited several team members through announcements in faculty and student chapter meetings, and by posting flyers and brochures on campus. The author worked with the team members closely in many areas, helped in the design of new parts and structural analysis of the car. Many of the team members received credit in related Engineering Technology courses such as CADD, Dynamics, and Senior Project taught by this author. We raised funds from industry sponsors and professional societies. We reduced the weight by 250 lb and tested the car at the Nissan’s test track for speed and endurance. The Solaraider III project has been a good learning experience for all of us. Currently, we are preparing for a solar car race to be held in June 2000.

Sridhara, B. (2000, June), Challenges Faced By The Undergraduate Solar Car Team At Middle Tennessee State University Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8202

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