BEND, Ore. — Appalachian State University’s solar vehicle team has secured a second-place tie in the 2018 American Solar Challenge (ASC), an international solar vehicle distance road race held biennially by the Innovators Educational Foundation (IEF).
Team Sunergy tied with the University of Minnesota, behind Italy’s University of Bologna, in the multi-occupancy vehicle class (Cruiser Class) in the competition, which was a cross-country race on the open road that took place over nine days and covered more than 1,700 miles. The University of Waterloo (Ontario) took third.
“I am so proud of our students,” said Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts. “They want to wring every bit of experience out of each situation, and they never give up. They exemplify the Mountaineer spirit and why Appalachian is the premier public undergraduate institution in North Carolina.”
Twenty-one teams from five countries (the United States, Canada, Italy, Russia and Saudi Arabia) registered for the ASC, which began July 14 in Omaha, Nebraska, and ended in Bend, Oregon, on July 22. Of the 21 teams that registered, 14 teams qualified for the race by completing a three-day track competition, the 2018 Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP), earlier in the week.
“This is the first car we have designed and built from the ground up, and it has our heart and soul in it,” said Executive Faculty Director and Team Sunergy founder Dan Blakeley ’15 ’18.
“We want to show that you can build a vehicle that not only runs on sunshine, but one that people can walk up to and say, ‘Wow, one day, I want to drive this vehicle,’” Blakeley said. “I think we have done that — I think we have painted a picture of what the future will hold for everybody.”
This is Blakeley’s last solar car race as part of Appalachian’s team — he completed his graduate work at Appalachian in May. In a post-race meeting, he told the team, “You know more than you realize, and you have to pass your knowledge on to the next generation of solar racers.”
Chief Sustainability Officer Dr. Lee F. Ball Jr. said, “The hands-on learning experience our students gain from this competition is preparing them to solve all kinds of complicated problems, from engineering, to electrical, to mechanics, to team logistics. This is the kind of experience that makes them competitive in the job market now, and it will continue to do so as new career opportunities continue to emerge for them.”
At the awards ceremony held July 22 in Bend, Oregon, Team Sunergy received a trophy for its second-place win in the ASC, as well as an award for its third-place win in the FSGP. Additionally, Team Sunergy’s photographer, Chase Reynolds ’17, won a photography award presented by the National Park Service for his work photographing the competition. Read the full results of the 2018 ASC.
The members of Appalachian’s Team Sunergy accompany their new Cruiser Class vehicle, ROSE, across the finish line during the 2018 American Solar Challenge. Team Sunergy tied for second place in the Cruiser Class category. Video by Dr. Lee Ball
Appalachian’s 2018 Team Sunergy members are:
- Executive Faculty Director Dan Blakeley ’15 ’18, of Olympia, Washington, who graduated in May with dual master’s degrees in engineering physics and technology. Blakeley conceived of the idea for the team in 2013 and is its founder.
- Assistant Mechanical Director and driver Wyatt Bailey, a junior sustainable technology major from Burlington.
- Aerodynamics and Body Designer John T. Lalevee, a senior industrial design major from Raleigh.
- Business Director Diego Lewis ’18, of Chapel Hill, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s in finance and banking.
- Electrical Director Austin VanderMeer Shaw ’18, of Charlotte, who graduated in May with a master’s in engineering physics.
- Operations Manager and driver Kali Smith, a senior environmental economics and policy major from Connelly Springs.
- Mechanical Director Cody Waters ’18, of Pineville, who graduated in May with a master’s in engineering physics.
- Telemetry and design team member Matthew Alicea ’18, of Concord, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s in computer science.
- Electrical team member Hunter Bristow, a sophomore sustainable technology major from Chapin, South Carolina.
- Operations team member Johnny Bumgardner, a senior sustainable technology major from Havelock.
- Mechanical and dynamics team member and driver James Furr, a junior double majoring in sustainable technology and physics from Charlotte.
- Social media team member and Nutrition Planner Bree Hensley, a sophomore nutrition and foods major from Conover.
- Mechanical team member Mike Montalvo, a sophomore mathematics major with a concentration in physical sciences from Cary.
- Telemetry systems team member Andrew Pobrica, a junior computer science major from Four Oaks.
- Mechanical team member Brandon Schwartz, a senior physics major from Charlotte.
- Electrical team member and driver Lucas Tax, a senior physics major from Chapel Hill.
- Photographer Chase Reynolds ’17, an Appalachian alumnus from Taylorsville.
- Chief Sustainability Officer and Team Advisor Dr. Lee F. Ball Jr., who has spent the past 16 years teaching sustainability-related content in Appalachian’s Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment.
- Team Advisor Brad Johnson, senior lecturer and graduate program director in Appalachian’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.
- Team Advisor Chris Tolbert, adjunct instructor in Appalachian’s Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, as well as a technology and engineering instructor and electric vehicle team coach at West Wilkes High School in Millers Creek.
- Chair of Appalachian’s Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment and Team Advisor Dr. Brian Raichle.
Senior sustainable technology and physics double major James Furr receives a celebratory dousing upon driving ROSE across the finish line during the 2018 American Solar Challenge. Team Sunergy tied for second place in the Cruiser Class category. Video by Dr. Lee Ball
About the American Solar Challenge
The American Solar Challenge (ASC) is a biennial competition to design, build and drive solar-powered cars across the country in an endurance challenge. This collegiate-level solar car racing event, which is sponsored by nonprofit organization Innovators Educational Foundation (IEF), is designed to promote a greater understanding of solar energy technology, its environmental benefits and its promise for the future; educational excellence in science, engineering and mathematics and the creative integration of technical and scientific expertise across a range of disciplines; and a hands-on opportunity for students and engineers to develop and demonstrate their technical and creative abilities. Learn more at http://americansolarchallenge.org/about/american-solar-challenge.
About Team Sunergy
Appalachian State University’s internationally recognized Team Sunergy is an interdisciplinary team with a passion for sustainable transportation — and the ingenuity, innovation and drive to create it. Its premier solar car, Apperion, gained national attention with top-three finishes in the 2016 and 2017 Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP), an international collegiate endurance competition that sets the standards for and tests the limits of solar vehicle technology. In 2018, the team’s second, Cruiser Class car, ROSE (Racing on Solar Energy), placed third in the FSGP competition and tied for second place in the American Solar Challenge — an international solar vehicle distance road race held biennially by the Innovators Educational Foundation. In FSGP 2021, Team Sunergy captured second place in its class, advancing to the ASC and winning first place for multiple-occupant vehicles. Learn more at https://sunergy.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.
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