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Five Years Of Solar Powered Boat Racing At Marquette University

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.201.1 - 2.201.14



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Paper Authors

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Robert L. Reid

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Bruce D. Hoeppner

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

Session 2633

Five Years of Solar Powered Boat Racing at Marquette University

Robert L. Reid, Bruce D. Hoeppner Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Marquette was the first university in the United States to build a solar powered racing boat in 1990-91 and has been participating in races since 1992. The first events for Marquette in 1992 were open competitions in Minneapolis, Seattle and Japan. These were the first competitions in the U.S. but races had been held in Japan since 1989. Mainly companies and inventors participated in the competitions with no other universities except for a few in Japan. The same situation existed in 1993. In 1994, initiated by Marquette through the Solar Energy Division of ASME, the world's first international intercollegiate solar boat regatta was held in Milwaukee, named Solar Splash and attracted ten universities from the U.S. and Japan. Solar Splash has been held annually in Milwaukee since 1994 with about sixteen universities now participating in the two-hour endurance races and the 300 m sprints. The rules for the maximum 6 m long boats allow for 480 watts of solar collectors and 1000 watt-hrs of battery storage such that in the two-hour endurance race, approximately 50 percent of the power is from solar directly and the other 50 percent from stored solar energy. Marquette also has continued to race in Japan every year since 1992 and has been the only team from outside of Japan to compete. These competitions have been an exciting interdisciplinary learning experience for the students at a cost much less than other prototype-size solar competitions.


Marquette was the first university in the United States to build a solar powered racing boat in 1990-91. This boat was also possibly the first solar powered boat of any type in the U.S. The boat consisted of a canoe, trolling motor, battery, and 200 watts of solar collectors. The boat was tested on Okauchee Lake in April of 1991. Also, about this time, the idea of an intercollegiate solar powered boat race, similar to the solar car races but with international collegiate entries, was presented to the Solar Energy Division of ASME. The idea had also been mentioned to George Ettenheim, President of Advanced Energy Competitions who had organized and produced the 1990 solar car race sponsored by General Motors.

Reid, R. L., & Hoeppner, B. D. (1997, June), Five Years Of Solar Powered Boat Racing At Marquette University Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6573

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