Raisbeck Aviation High School Students Win 2022 National Solar Car Challenge
Green Energy Team Captures Third Consecutive National Title
While many students around the Puget Sound were enjoying a well-deserved summer break by spending time in the mountains, on bikes, on the beach, or in front of their favorite video games, a group of students from Raisbeck Aviation High School braved 12 days in the Texas heat to race a solar-powered car which they designed, built, and tested over the last year.
Members of the RAHS’s 25-person Green Energy Team applied their knowledge of physics and engineering to design, build, create, test, analyze, and refine green-energy solutions; since 2018, the team has focused on building solar-powered cars. Students design and test every aspect of the car from the chassis and suspension to the solar panels and telemetry ‒ aiming for safety, efficiency, and speed in each component. Their target: cooperating in the national Solar Car Challenge.
The Solar Car Challenge is an annual event in which teams from high schools around the U.S. gather to race their solar cars. This year’s race was an endurance race at the Texas Motor Speedway; teams aimed to complete as many laps as possible over the course of four race days using nothing but energy from the sun to propel their cars.
The event started with three days of scrutineering: a rigorous evaluation of students’ knowledge of the car’s systems as well as ensuring that cars met specifications and were safe to race. The RAHS team passed through scrutineering with the smallest of hiccups, quickly addressing judges’ concerns before moving onto the next station.
Teams raced their cars from Sunday, July 17 through Wednesday, July 20 under the relentless Texas sun. The team from Raisbeck used that energy to travel in excess of 300 miles a day, shattering the previous track records set by the team from RAHS in 2019. The team’s success was the result of many moving pieces working in synchronicity.
The team’s long hours and hard work paid off: on day 1, they broke the daily record traveling over 220 laps (330 miles) in 7.5 hours; on day 2, they broke their own record, traveling 230 laps. By the time the race was over, the car had traveled over 1,300 miles.
Over the course of the year and the course of the race, the members of the Raisbeck team have learned about more than building and racing a solar-powered car. For example, at the race, the team collaborated with other teams, both giving and getting help.
Off the track, students were in charge of fundraising, communications and outreach, and logistics, as well as handling and addressing team dynamics.
As this season winds down, members of the RAHS Green Energy Team are contemplating their next steps: Participate in the solar-powered road race from Fort Worth to Palmdale, CA? Participate in the cross-country race across Australia? Partner with a local college to qualify for the collegiate-level cross-country race? Whatever it is, it’s a safe bet that the team will approach it with the same dedication, verve, and growth mindset that have characterized the team since its inception.
The team is grateful for its sponsors, mentors, advisors, family members, the Solar Car Challenge staff, and the other teams at the Solar Car Challenge for their generous support and for making this experience possible.
RAHS Green Energy Team