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How Solar Boating Teaches the Lessons of Energy Conversion and Conservation

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Using Real-World Examples

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

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Paper Authors


Saeed D. Foroudastan Middle Tennessee State University

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Dr. Saeed Foroudastan is the Associate Dean for the College of Basic and Applied Sciences (CBAS). The CBAS oversees 11 departments at Middle Tennessee State University. He is also the current Director for the Masters of Science in Professional Science program and a professor of engineering and engineering technology at MTSU. Foroudastan received his B.S. in civil engineering, his M.S. in civil engineering, and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Tennessee Technological University. Additionally, he has six years of industrial experience as a Senior Engineer and 20 years of academic experience as a professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor. Foroudastan’s academic experience includes teaching at Tennessee Technological University and Middle Tennessee State University in the areas of civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and engineering technology. He has actively advised undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, and minority students in academics and career guidance. Foroudastan has also served as Faculty Advisor for SAE, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Pre-engineering, ASME, Experimental Vehicles Program (EVP), and Tau Alpha Pi Honors Society. In addition to Foroudastan’s teaching experience, he also has performed extensive research and published numerous technical papers. He has secured more than $2 million in the form of both internal and external grants and research funding. Foroudastan is the faculty advisor, coordinator, and primary fundraiser for EVP teams entering national research project competitions such as the Formula SAE Collegiate Competition, the Baja SAE Race, the SolarBike Race, the Great Moonbuggy Race, and the Solar Boat Collegiate Competition. For his concern for and dedication to his students, Foroudastan received MTSU awards such as the 2002-03 Outstanding Teaching Award, the 2005-06 Outstanding Public Service Award, and the 2007 Faculty Advisor of the Year Award. He received the Excellence in Engineering Education Award and Faculty Advisor Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). He was also nominated for the MTSU 2005 and 2009-11 Outstanding Research Award. He received two Academic Excellence awards from the Tennessee Board of Region in 2010-11. Foroudastan has also won many College of Basic and Applied Science awards. In addition to this, Foroudastan also reviews papers for journals and conference proceedings of ASEE, ASEE-SE, and ASME, and he has been a session moderator for several professional conferences.

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Cary Richard Woodson Middle Tennessee State University Orcid 16x16

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Having had an interest in science, technology, and engineering from an early age, I complete a two-year vocational electronics program while in high school before attending ITT's two-year electrical engineering technology program. Eventually I desired to continue my education and obtained my bachelor’s of applied science degree with a concentration in mechanical engineering technology from Middle Tennessee State University. While perusing this degree I became involved with the university's Experimental Vehicle's Program where I primarily worked with the solar boat team during the last three years of my studies. I served as the solar boat team captain during the last two of those years. Upon successfully receiving my bachelor's degree I was invited by the university's Associate Dean of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, Dr. Saeed Foroudastan, to work as his graduate research assistant and continue my education by entering into the university’s master's of science in professional science degree program. Upon acceptance of Dr. Foroudastan's offer I began working as a researcher within the university's Experimental Vehicles Program where I functioned as a lab supervisor and student mentor until my successful completion of the master’s program in December of 2016. Additionally, I am a Gulf War veteran, I have been married for twenty years, and I am the proud father of one son. Having developed a passion for green and renewable energy technology as a result of my work with MTSU’s Experimental Vehicles Program, it is my long-term goal to continue doing work and research within this field.

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How Solar Boating Teaches the Lessons of Energy Conversion and Conservation Students gain a tremendous amount of theoretical knowledge during their time in the classroom, but a practical application of that knowledge is required in order for the student to turn what is learned into a skill. This is especially true for students majoring in applied science, and even more so for those with a concentration in engineering. Students who participate in hands-on projects that allow them to apply what has been learned in the classroom in a real and meaningful way not only gain more from their academic experience, they prove the value of their time in the classroom to themselves. This is especially true for larger-scale projects that are intended to be entered into international competitions. The Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Experimental Vehicle’s Program (EVP) provides students with a unique opportunity to participate in an active engagement project that focuses on energy conversion and conservation with the additional intention of increasing their knowledge and interests in renewable energy sources through the practical application of solar power. The project is an all-electric, high-speed, solar-powered boat that participating students design and construct within the constraints of the rules set forth by the professional organization which sponsors the international competition that the craft is designed to compete in. Students are allowed complete autonomy during the design, construction, and testing phases and all participating students are encouraged to attend the competition. The MTSU EVP solar boat project epitomizes the spirit of innovative teaching and learning strategies. In addition to offering students a unique opportunity to enhance their technical and soft skills and gain solid resume and portfolio building experiences, participation helps them to stay engaged academically. Dedication and enthusiasm are at their highest when people are engaged in work they find stimulating and are rewarded for. Here the reward comes from working with a team to complete a complex project and enter it into an international competition. The success in doing so not only validates the effort the students puts into their time in the classroom but it also allows them to prove to themselves, and to potential employers, that they are real engineers capable working with others to solve complex problems.

Foroudastan, S. D., & Woodson, C. R. (2017, June), How Solar Boating Teaches the Lessons of Energy Conversion and Conservation Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28450

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