Iowa State’s solar car team prepares for 1,800-mile trek across Midwest


Members of Team PrISUm -- from left, Charlotte Brandenburg, Garret Coleman, Philip Gates, Arun Sondhi and Matt Goode -- are preparing their solar racing car for this summer's two races. Larger photo. (Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University News Service)
Members of Team PrISUm — from left, Charlotte Brandenburg, Garret Coleman, Philip Gates, Arun Sondhi and Matt Goode — are preparing their solar racing car for this summer’s two races. (Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University News Service)
Nick Fetty | July 21, 2016

Members of Iowa State University’s solar car team – PrISUm – are preparing for an 1,800-mile trek from Ohio to South Dakota.

Later this month Team PrISUm will compete in the Amesican Solar Challenge road race which will begin at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Brecksville, Ohio and end at Wind Cave National Park in Hot Springs, South Dakota. The race is in collaboration with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and will include stops at national battlefields, monuments and historical parks. The route does not go through Iowa and instead cuts south across Missouri.

Prior to the American Solar Challenge (July 30-August 6), Team PrISUm will compete in a qualifying race at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex July 26-28. The team hopes to use these races to prepare them for the 2017 World Solar Challenge, a 1,900-mile trek across the Australian outback scheduled for next October.

Team PrISUm claimed its first overall victory last year during the Formula Sun Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. The team and its car, Phaëton, bested the second place team by more than 31 laps and also recording the fastest lap of any of its competitors by about 14 seconds. The car, Phaëton, is named for the son of Greek sun god, Helios.

The team’s newest model, Phaëton 2, improved upon several aspects from the previous design including a new motor, new batteries, and live telemetry which allows the public to use the internet to track location, speed, and other metrics measured by the car.

PrISUm team members Charlotte Brandenburg, right, and Matt Goode look over the car's batteries and fuses outside the team's Sweeney Hall garage. (Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University News Service)
PrISUm team members Charlotte Brandenburg, right, and Matt Goode look over the car’s batteries and fuses outside the team’s Sweeney Hall garage. (Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University News Service)

Iowa State University solar car travels across the state


The solar car outside of the statehouse in Des Moines (Team PrISUm/Twitter)
Iowa State University’s solar car “Team PrISUm” outside of the statehouse in Des Moines on Tuesday. (Team PrISUm/Twitter)

Nick Fetty | May 21, 2015

This week students, researchers, and others on Iowa State University’s “Team PrISUm” solar car are participating in a five-day tour across the state.

Team PrISUm’s SunRun began Monday with a stop in Denison, the hometown of former Iowa Hawkeye lineman Brandon Scherff who was the fifth overall selection in last month’s NFL Draft. On Tuesday the car visited Des Moines, Indianola, and Cedar Rapids before traveling to Monticello, Independence, and Cedar Falls on Wednesday. Today the tour will stop in Algona, Orange City, and Cherokee before visiting Webster City and returning to Ames on Friday.

Team PrISUm is a student-run organization first established in 1989 by the campus’ chapter of Tau Beta Pi, an honor society for engineering students. The group first competed in the GM Sunrayce in 1990 racing from Florida to Michigan and placing 17th out of 32 competitors. According to its website, “PrISUm is the only team that has competed in every cross country American solar car race.” Around 1995 the team opened its membership up to students of all majors. The researchers are currently designing the 13th generation solar car which is expected to compete in the 2016 American Solar Challenge.

For for updates about Team PrISUm follow the group on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out  Juice’s photo gallery of Tuesday’s stop in Des Moines and KCRG’s coverage of Wednesday’s event in Independence.

Team PrISUm stopped at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids during its 2015 SunRun tour. (Team PrISUm/Facebook)
Team PrISUm stopped at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids during its 2015 SunRun tour. (Team PrISUm/Facebook)

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’s solar powered car is competing in eight day race


Photo by Sullybags, Flickr.

Iowa State University’s Team PrISUm is currently racing their solar powered car in the American Solar Challenge.

The event started on the 14th, and will end on the 21st. All of the solar powered cars were created at universities in North America. In total, the cars will cover 1650 miles.

Currently, the ISU team is in second place behind the University of Michigan.

You can follow the team’s progress by visiting their blog here.