close
close
South Florida high school students head to Texas Motor Speedway to race solar-powered cars

Twenty-six Florida Atlantic University high school students, the Solar Owls, will spend eight days in Fort Worth, Texas, to race their four-seat solar cruiser in the 2024 Solar Car Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway.

Florida Atlantic University High School


Fort Lauderdale — More than two dozen high school students are headed to Texas to represent South Florida in a race with a solar-powered car they designed themselves.

Twenty-six Florida Atlantic University high school students, the Solar Owls, will spend eight days in Fort Worth, Texas, to race their four-seat solar cruiser in the 2024 Solar Car Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Solar Car Challenge is a program designed to “inspire students in science, technology and alternative energy,” the Solar Owls said in a news release Saturday. During the race, the team that travels the most miles over the course of four days will be declared the winner.

Led by advisor Allan Phipps, this year is the team’s first participation in the challenge. The Solar Owls have been physically preparing for the race since last June, but the research and design phases of their vehicle have been in development since 2020.

Inspired by the Tesla Cybertruck, the ALSET Cyber ​​Sedan team used its own ideas to build the vehicle from the ground up, making it the first car in Florida built by a high school or college-level team, the Solar Owls noted. The Cyber ​​Sedan is a four-seater commuter car that runs on solar energy, demonstrating the “innovation and engineering prowess of the Solar Owls’ high school students.”

“Taking part in the Solar Car Challenge has been an incredible experience,” said student Nidhi Begur. “The teamwork, creativity and technical skills we have developed are invaluable. I am proud of what we have achieved and excited for the race.”

In total, 48 students worked on the vehicle, which is made from a carbon-fibre sandwich panel with a foam core made from recycled PET bottles. The roll bars and safety cell are made from thin-walled chrome-plated steel.

“I’m very excited to lead our team this July at Texas Motor Speedway,” added student Mark Zagha. “This has been the result of hard work over the past two years and I can’t wait to see what happens in the coming weeks.”

This year’s challenge will feature 32 teams, all at various stages of development and representing multiple states and countries, including Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Spain, Singapore and the Bahamas.

“STEM competitions like the Solar Car Challenge offer students a unique, hands-on opportunity to apply classroom lessons to real-world, global problems,” Phipps said. “Projects like building a solar car enhance engineering skills and foster essential life skills such as time management, teamwork, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving.”

“These programs exemplify how hands-on, project-based STEM initiatives can help students discover their personal talents, strengths, and interests,” she added. “Participating in these activities guides students toward STEM degrees and careers, and ultimately toward finding their own STEM identity.”