30th Solar Car Challenge Road Event Abruptly Canceled, Pasadena Polytechnic Solar Car Team Heads Home – Pasadena Now

The Polytechnic School Engineering Club’s solar car and an insert showing team members and advisors. Team members include Aria Wang, Kai Herman, Jeremy Hsieh, Jonah Goldstein, Aikam Singh, Sabrina Zhang, Reese Goldstein, Ennio Sim, Daniel Zheng, William Kim, Julian Harrison and advisors Craig Fletcher and Jack Prater. [Courtesy Polytechnic School]

Pasadena Polytechnic School’s Solar Car Team participation in the  30th Solar Car Challenge ended abruptly on Wednesday, July 19 when organizers canceled the event  after more than a dozen of its staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

The teams, including Poly’s, were in the third day of the road event and were set to finish in the Antelope Valley’s Palmdale on Sunday.

Poly’s engineering club students were heading from Dallas, Texas to Palmdale, Calif. using the all-electric car they designed and assembled. The team that drives the most miles to Palmdale was to be declared the winner.

According to Aria Wang, one of the members of Poly’s team, they had made it as far as El Paso, Texas. It is unclear who won the competition or if the circumstances will eliminate the declaration of a winner.

The nearly 1,000-mile journey started last July 16 with a scrutineering safety check, ensuring the cars safety and road worthiness. The race was supposed to end on July 23.

Composed of nine students which include Wang, Kai Herman and Julian Harrison and advisors Craig Fletcher and Jack Prater, the team’s entry for the competition is a three wheel vehicle with a metal frame and solar panels on top.

Prater said the trike built by the students is a little lighter and has “more maneuverability” compared to other entries with four wheels.

He also boasted about the simple yet robust design of the vehicle giving it an edge over the work of other teams. In total, over 20 high school teams from around the country have joined the competition.

Along the way, the Pasadena Polytechnic Solar Car Team braved weather changes, especially the heat. 

“We’ve seen a lot of fire, I can tell you that. There are a lot of risks and especially when you’re dealing with 120 degree heat,” said Harrison. “I think we saw 121 on the car at one point. It’s a lot of water and a lot of checking in on the drivers and a lot of just making sure at every stop that we looked over and made sure that everything was okay before we headed out for it.”

Fletcher lauded the students from the Polytechnic School’s Engineering Club who are behind the project.

Each team member has a role to play. Some worked on electrical matters such as batteries and solar panels while the others worked on the design and building.

“It was actually quite remarkable as an advisor to watch the students do what they do because we would have days where a problem would arise, it looked like it was going to end our day and the students would hunker down and figure out what was going on and figure out how to fix it and they’d fix it and then we’d continue on,” Fletcher said. “As a teacher it was so impressive to watch these kids do what they did and do what they were doing.”

The team is now set to arrive back in Pasadena in two days, according to Harrison. 

To know more about the challenge, visit: https://polysolarcar.wixsite.com/engineering

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