U of T Engineering’s solar car team, Blue Sky Solar Racing, is about to pull the wraps off B-7, its entry in the 2013 World Solar Challenge – a grueling 3,000-kilometre race across Australia.
B-7 will be unveiled at Varsity Stadium on June 28. The race takes place in October, and the U of T car has been under construction for the past 18 months by student volunteers representing every U of T Engineering department as well as other U of T Faculties.
The biggest motivation for the team members has been to see the car built. “This is the kind of experience you cannot find in the classroom, and we find it very rewarding,” said Tiffany Hu (MechE 1T4), who heads Blue Sky Solar’s advancement team.
The interdisciplinary nature of the project allows for students from a variety of fields to work towards a common goal. Blue Sky began in 1996, and over the years, team alumni have continued to mentor new team members, sharing their expertise and experience for optimal results.
Unlike previous Blue Sky cars, the B-7 is a single-seater, four-wheeled solar car with an upright driving position. It features the latest photovoltaic technologies and aerodynamic design, and is 20 per cent lighter than its predecessors.
The team’s biggest challenge is fundraising, Hu said. Although Blue Sky Solar has more than 100 sponsors, the loss of student levy funds in 2012 means the team had to complete the construction of B-7 in half the time that previous versions of the car had available. The additional challenge of scheduling construction had to be resolved by careful planning and mobilization of resources involving all team members, Hu said.
The club’s faculty advisors, Professors Kamran Behdinan (MIE) and Olivier Trescases (ECE), have also provided vital support and advice, she said.
Fundraising is ongoing, and Blue Sky Solar welcomes new sponsors and venues for funding. “How much we can do with the project depends on the resources we have available,” Hu explained.
Once the team reaches Australia, they will concentrate on testing the car and getting through the qualification rounds. The race itself stars in Darwin, in northern Australia, and crosses the continent from north to south, ending in Adelaide. About 50 teams from around the world are expected to participate, and Blue Sky’s goal is to place among the top five, which would be a significant achievement for one of the few entirely-student teams in the competition, said Hu.
U of T Engineering Dean Cristina Amon will help the Blue Sky Solar team unveil B-7 on Friday, June 28 at Varsity Stadium. Everyone is welcome to come out and see the car in action. Registration begins at 12:30 pm, and the car will be unveiled at 1:20 pm, followed by a demonstration drive and a meet and greet with team members. For more information, see blueskysolar.utoronto.ca.