Congratulations to the University of Michigan Solar Car Team! They just won the teams’ fifth national championship, beating thirteen other teams from Austin, TX to Calgary, Canada. The team is the winningist team in the United States, having won five of the nine national championships. This year’s margin was the biggest ever, just under ten hours! (And that was after ~90 minutes in penalties the team chose not to contest.)
As I’ve mentioned before (here and here), the Solar Car Team was a foundational experience for me. I spent four years on the team, working on the 1997 Wolverine and 1999 MaizeBlaze teams. The two years I spent as Project Manager for the 1999 MaizeBlaze team is something I’ll always be proud of; it was two years that taught me more about leadership and management than I ever could have believed. That I was in charge of a 100+ member team with a budget in excess of $1million at age 20/21 is almost unbelievable in hindsight! Though we didn’t quite meet our goals, we developed a fantastic team, and I’m very proud that so many of them stuck around to win in 2001.
This years’ team was a re-vamping of the car that raced across Australia in the fall of 2007. I personally think they had a really great shot at winning the World Solar Challenge with some extremely innovative technology. Unfortunately they were in an accident in the first few miles of the race as a result of some maneuvering with/around the Stanford University entry. Despite the crash, they worked through the night and back through the field to still have a very respectable finish.
The team has been through a lot in the past few years, and I’m really happy that they had such a resounding win this year.