College’s solar car team soars in first competition

June 15, 2009
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Members of the college’s solar car team seen here are (l-r) Christopher St. John, Breandon St. John, Benjamin Rounds, Joshua Fino, Timothy Parker, Robert Nickison (an adopted team member from Texas), and Courtney Lia. Photo submitted

Members of the college’s solar car team seen here are (l-r) Christopher St. John, Breandon St. John, Benjamin Rounds, Joshua Fino, Timothy Parker, Robert Nickison (an adopted team member from Texas), and Courtney Lia. Photo submitted

After three years of development, the college’s solar car club successfully completed its first attempt at competition.

Led by faculty adviser Mike Otis (Electrical Engineering) and sponsored by The Solar Energy Consortium, the SUNY Hawk team placed sixth out of the 11 teams competing at the Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, Texas, June 1-5.

“As an alumni member and as someone who is committed to solar power as the primary energy source of the future, I am very proud of the extraordinary success that the SUNY New Paltz solar car team achieved at such a high-level competition,” said Congressman Maurice Hinchey ’68, ’70g (D-NY). “The SUNY New Paltz solar car team once again put the Hudson Valley on the map when it comes to solar energy research and development.”

The teams designed and built solar cars that they raced around the track from morning to night. The final rankings were determined by the car’s lap count around the track, not speed, in a given time frame of 30 hours over three days.

The students attending the race were Joshua Fino ’09 (Electrical Engineering), Samantha Hartig ’09 (Visual Arts), Courtney Lia ’11 (Electrical Engineering), Tim Parker ’09 (Electrical Engineering), Ben Rounds ’11 (Electrical Engineering), Breandon St. John ’09 (Electrical Engineering) and Christopher St. John ’09 (Computer Engineering). The solar car team is made up of 15 to 20 students from different majors on campus.

“I’m very proud of the SUNY New Paltz solar car’s success,” said Dan Jelski, dean of the School of Science and Engineering. “Our team did a great job. Our car was low budget and not as high-tech as some others, but we more than made up for it with teamwork, ingenuity and great engineering.”

Otis attributes the success of the car’s performance – which included completing 218 laps in one day – to the teamwork and dedication his students displayed. The students worked hard every day they were in Texas, putting in between 12 and 14 hours a day to make sure their car was ready for the competition.

“We spent the most time on the track than any other team, except the winner,” said St. John.

“It has been a pleasure to sponsor and support the SUNY New Paltz Engineering school and their Solar Car development team,” said Vincent Cozzolino ’83, president and CEO of The Solar Energy Consortium. “The students are simply incredible in their technical abilities and personal drive to succeed.”

The team also received support from Lee Cabe from Newburgh. The SUNY Hawk team was sponsored by the college, Ulster County BOCES, The Solar Energy Consortium and P&Gs in New Paltz.

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