Members of the University of Missouri-Rolla Solar Car Team, defending world champions in solar car racing, will unveil their new vehicle, "Solar Miner V," at 2 p.m. March 19, in the atrium of the Havener Center on the UMR campus.
The unveiling will take place following the annual St. Patrick’s Parade through downtown Rolla. Solar Miner IV, the 2003 championship car, is scheduled to be driven in the parade.
"Solar Miner V is a completely new vehicle," says UMR Solar Car Team president Stephanie Maiden, a senior in chemistry and biological sciences from Hannibal, Mo. "The car is always evolving. We look at what worked great, and try to make it even better."
UMR is a two-time winner of the American Solar Challenge, in 1999 and 2003, and finished second in 2001. The cross-country event is held every-other year. This year, the North American Solar Challenge will start July 17 in Austin, Texas, and finish July 27 in Calgary, Alberta.
"It’s a marathon, not a sprint," Maiden says, adding that it’s important to have a weather-related strategy for a solar car race. "Last time, our main competition came from the University of Minnesota and Waterloo University in Canada; but the University of Michigan is usually strong, and they’re always in the back of my mind."
UMR team members are working to improve the aerodynamics of Solar Miner V, and they have designed a modified chassis that can withstand the rigors of the road. In 2003, though it won the American Solar Challenge, Solar Miner IV had trouble with a cracked chassis.
According to Maiden, each new vehicle is a two-year project. The first year is for design work and the second year is spent manufacturing the vehicle, she says.
In preparation for the North American Solar Challenge, the UMR team will participate in the Formula Sun Grand Prix competition May 16-20 in Topeka, Kan.