Solar car engineering competition returns for 2018

Solar Car Challenge, the educational programme teaching students how to build and race sun-powered cars, is to be sponsored by edtech pioneers pi-top

Learning company pi-to has announced its sponsorship of the Solar Car Challenge, an award-winning national educational programme that teaches high school students how to plan, design, engineer, build, and race roadworthy solar cars. The program fosters learning development by honing making, engineering and computer science skills, as well as critical thinking, collaboration and teamwork.

pi-top is providing each team with technology, as well as technical advice, to enable them to integrate the company’s technology and improve race performance. 29 solar cars are expected to race in the 2018 Solar Car Challenge, travelling across the United States from Ft. Worth, Texas to Palmdale, California for seven days, beginning July 17.

“The Solar Car Challenge is a world-class education program that gives students important project-based skills and experiences, while creating the memories of a lifetime,” said Jesse Lozano, pi-top CEO. “As part of our sponsorship, we’re providing every team racing this summer with pi-top technology to help the students not only succeed in the race, but to develop vital, real-world skills that can help them succeed in the future.”

“We have never had access to this level of advanced technology before, and it should make a real difference for our students as they navigate along the race course.”

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pi-top is providing each team with a pi-top laptop, as well as the pi-topHELIOS, a prototype telemetry device designed and built by pi-top specifically for the Challenge. The pi-topHELIOS will capture real-time data from each solar car and transmit it to a pi-top-designed receiver installed in the laptop in the team’s chase vehicle. Teams will use the telemetry system to track their progress, even if miles apart, gathering such data as exact location, solar array performance, power consumption, battery performance, monitoring of weather patterns, and other vital race information. Teammates in the chase vehicle will radio the information to the driver in real-time. 

“We are delighted to have pi-top as a technology partner for the Solar Car Challenge,” said Lehman Marks, the event’s founder and president. “We have never had access to this level of advanced technology before, and it should make a real difference for our students as they navigate along the race course.”

The Solar Car Challenge was first developed in 1993 as a high school extra-curricular program, later evolving into the Solar Car Challenge Foundation, with the goal of advancing the exploration of solar power and alternative energy. The annual race alternates between a closed-course race at the Texas Motor Speedway and a cross-country race. Since its inception, thousands of students from 181 high schools in 36 states – plus Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and the Bahamas – have taken part in some phase of the Solar Car Challenge Education programme. 

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