St. Thomas Academy team wins national experimental vehicle challenge

St. Thomas Academy's Experimental Vehicle Team (EVT) took first place in the Electric-Solar Powered Division of the 2015 Solar Car Challenge, a national competition for high school teams that was held July 17-23 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.

The EVT's "Urban Concept 3" car completed a total of 287 laps, equating to 549 miles over the course of four days of racing at the speedway. The second place team in the division finished 12 miles behind.

In addition to winning its division, the team also received the Texas State Energy Conservation Office Awards for displaying the highest level of engineering excellence.

John Ingebrigtsen '16 of West St. Paul and Matthew Michalski '15 of South St. Paul were amoung the 14-member team.

Applying their knowledge of engineering, electrical systems and composite technology, the students on the team designed and built the two-person vehicle from September 2014 through July 2015. The vehicle features two gull-wing doors, four-wheel independent suspension, hydraulic disc brakes and a carbon-fiber body. The composite shell of the car was constructed from fiberglass molds the team made from a full-size model of the car. With its four batteries, the unoccupied vehicle weights 200kg or 440 pounds.

The Solar Car Challenge is a race of efficiency. The goal for each team is to complete as many laps as possible over four days using only the power of the sun to recharge its car. The team raced in the new Solar-Electric Powered Division, which simulates real-world electric cars using only a student-designed and -built solar charging station to recharge the car's batteries. The 1,300-watt photovoltaic array could completely recharge the vehicle in about 90 minutes.

The challenge was created in 1993 as a single high school's extra-curricular program, the Solar Car Challenge continues to grow, attracting as many as 65 schools from 20 states each year. The competition motivates students in science, engineering and alternative energy while they learn how to design, engineer, build and race roadworthy solar cars. The end product of each education cycle is the Solar Car Challenge: a closed-track event at the Texas Motor Speedway, or a cross-country event. The competition alternates between the closed-track competition and the cross-country event every other year. For more information, visit:


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