University of Michigan wins 2014 American Solar Challenge, Iowa State University finishes 3rd

Nick Fetty | July 29, 2014
The University of Michigan took first place at the 2014 American Solar Challenge which ended Tuesday. Photo by Ali Eminov; Flickr
The University of Michigan took first place at the 2014 American Solar Challenge.
Photo by Ali Eminov; Flickr

For the fifth-straight year, the University of Michigan took first place at the American Solar Challenge which concluded Monday.

Michigan’s race team – which included roughly 20 students – overcame its fair share of setbacks including various mechanical problems earlier in the summer as well as acceleration issues at the start of the race. The Wolverines persevered though and finished just 10 minutes ahead of Big Ten rival Minnesota to take the gold. Team PrISUm from Iowa State University finished third. The Cyclone team was briefly slowed down after being pulled over by law enforcement while driving through Wisconsin.

The eight-day race – which went from Austin, Texas to Minneapolis this year – gives engineering students from across the country the opportunity to design, build, and race a solar-powered car. The first American Solar Challenge was in 1990 and has occurred every other year since with some irregularity. This year’s event featured teams from 22 different universities including representation from countries as far away as Germany, Iran, and Taiwan.

ISU engineer receives $400,000 grant to optimize electric motor designs

Iowa State University assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, Dionysios Aliprantis. Photo courtesy of Iowa State University.

Dionysios Aliprantis, an assistant professor at Iowa State University, received a five-year $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund his research on the optimization of electric motors and generators.

The grant is part of the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, and will fund Aliprantis’ work as he develops computer modeling technology that will help engineers craft electric motors into new, more powerful designs.

 “The goal is to get more power out of the same size motor,” said Aliprantis. “Or, that could mean getting the same power with a smaller motor.”

However, Aliprantis is not expecting a massive increase in performance.

“I’m looking for a little bit of increase, maybe 5 percent or 1 percent,” he said. “But multiply that number by the number of hybrid cars, let’s say, and you could get savings in the billions of dollars. The potential here could be huge.”

For more information, read the full Iowa State University news release.