The DeKalb Engineering Team will be the first and only team representing the state of Georgia at this year’s Winston Solar Car Challenge. DeKalb County students from Chamblee, Cross Keys, Dunwoody and Fernbank are making education history by building Georgia’s first ever solar powered race car. The car will race in the Winston Solar Car Challenge starting July 14th at the Texas Motor Speedway.
The team is in good hands. It is led by two never-say-quit military veterans; faculty advisors who have sacrificed their summers to help the team do in two months what their mentors, the Georgia Tech Solar Jackets, have been doing for two years.
Earlier this year, Mr. Patrick Gunter, one of the faculty advisors, coached the Cross Keys High School Robotics Team, one-third of the Solar Car Team, to an impressive 11th place finish out of 400 teams from all over the world at the Vex World Robotics Championship in Anaheim, California. The team beat opponents from countries including China, Japan and Singapore and were the top scoring team in their division of 100 teams.
The DeKalb Engineering Team, based at Cross Keys High School’s Manufacturing Center has split into two teams the last two weeks working 18 hour days. The first team worked on mechanical and composites at Middle Georgia College while the second group focused on photovoltaics, electrical, and public relations at Cross Keys in order to meet their deadlines.
Recently, the joint team held a press conference at Cross Keys High School to unveil the car’s aero-body that has been hand-fabricated by the students in the state-of-the-art aviation center of Middle Georgia College.
The team’s efforts for the past two months have put them in a position to succeed but they need sponsors to make the race. With initial seed funding from the Cross Keys Foundation, the team has managed to build the major systems required for the car but just two weeks before the race, the team needs the county and state to get behind its efforts to reach their goal of being a championship team.
After July 14th, then what? The vehicle will represent about $300,000 in equity for the community and the plan is to run the system in races and as an educational platform for three years or more. The team is also eying a trip to Australia to represent DeKalb, Georgia and the United States in the Solar World Challenge.
Do you want to be part of history? Visit solarcar2012.com and see how you may help the students represent DeKalb County and Georgia. Don’t wait! They must leave for Texas by the 13th, in 8 days, and need your support now!
Mpaza S. Kapembwa, a student at Williams College, is a 2011 Cross Keys graduate, Gates Millennium Scholar, Coca Cola Scholar, Dell Scholar and Bank of America Student Leader