• Solar Car Gets Green Light

                Coppell High School’s Solar Racing Team will put their engineering skills to the test July 5-10 during the 2008 Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway.
                This twenty-two member team, including two young women, has been planning, designing, and building their one-seat, solar-powered vehicle named “Aurora” since October 2007 as part of Coppell High School’s EXCITE (EXploring sCIence, Technology & Engineering) Program through the School of Engineering.  The team is advised by Mike Yakubovsky and divided into three sub-groups that are responsible for different aspects of the project: electrical, mechanical, and public relations.
                 The closed-track challenge is sponsored by Dell and the Winston School in Dallas. Coppell is one of 19 teams from across the U.S. participating this year and among a field of competitors traditionally dominated by private schools.  The first two days will consist of team orientation, an opening banquet, and “scrutineering” sessions where every inch of each car is checked for meeting all electrical, mechanical, and safety require-ments.  Racing will begin July 7 and continue through July 10, followed by an awards banquet.  Teams must switch drivers every three hours, and each driver is required to have a license.  Webcams will be set up to capture the event for Internet viewing since it will be closed to the public.
                Sid Nivas, captain of the electrical group for Coppell’s team, said their car will travel at speeds below 25 miles per hour.  He said their main goal this first year is to finish the race.
                “We will probably complete about 6,000 laps over the four racing days, and we’ll see cars passing us at speeds of 60-75 miles per hour,” Nivas said.  “At the end of the fourth day, whoever has the most laps wins.”
                Because the solar car cost $25,000 to build, the team needed a lot of contributors to complete their project.  Two Platinum donors stepped forward this year: Nissan donated $10,000 and The Ratliff Group donated $5,000 plus they provided workers to cut and weld metal as well as a place for the students to work and store the vehicle.  In addition, nine foot steel bars were donated by Longhorn Steel to construct the car’s frame.  Nissan, very pleased with CHS’s first year efforts, has granted an additional $2 million worth of software for 10 computers in the pre-engineering program for 2008-09.  The software, Solidworks STK (satellite tool kit) is the same used by NASA and will help the team map out the entire race for next year.  The students have been complying with Nissan’s requirement of weekly podcasts with updates on the progress.  They may be viewed on the CHS web site under Academics/School of Engineering/Solar Car.
                Fundraising efforts also included “Adopt a Cell,” where individuals could donate either $10 or $20 to sponsor the car’s cells.  A single cell costs $5.50 and there are 550 solar cells on the car.  Each donor received a black, treaded “Coppell Solar” bracelet.  Donations are still being accepted and may be  made to the Coppell School of Engineering.  The pledge forms can be found on the solar car webpage through www.coppellisd.com/chs/site/default.asp.