Follow OSU in the 2008 North American Solar Car Challenge.

OSU Solar Vehicle Team
OSU Solar Vehicle Team

Designing and building a solar-powered car fit to take on the North American Solar Challenge took OSU Solar Vehicle Team captains and College of Engineering doctoral students Kathy Van Wormer and Hai-Yue Han three years of work and $50,000. They also enlisted the help of nearly two dozen team members to make sure that Rain Dancer, which is powered by more than 400 solar cells and weighs 600 pounds, was competition-ready.

But that was only the beginning of their trip.

The North American Solar Challenge, in which Van Wormer, Han and 10 of their teammates are currently participating, is a 2,400-mile race from Dallas, Texas to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It’s the longest solar power race in the world, beating out the World Solar Challenge by almost 500 miles. OSU’s team is racing with 15 others from universities all over the United States and Canada, including the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Queens University and the University of Kentucky. “Everyone here is fantastic. The atmosphere is so helpful,” says Van Wormer. “It’s the best time I’ve ever had. We are definitely doing this again.”

Rain Dancer’s solar array only outputs around 1.5 hp during the brightest time of the day, forcing it to drive more than 2,000 miles with less power than a hairdryer.

Follow the OSU Solar Vehicle team’s progress in the race on their blog.

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