BOONE, N.C. — Early Thursday, Aug. 19, Appalachian State University’s solar vehicle Team Sunergy coasted its Cruiser Class car, ROSE, into place in front of the B.B. Dougherty Administration Building on the university’s campus for a victory celebration.
Team Sunergy members presented App State Chancellor Sheri Everts with trophies won at the recent American Solar Challenge and Formula Sun Grand Prix. Everts lauded Team Sunergy, signed the cruiser car and announced plans for hosting the team at a ring ceremony — a first and considerable honor for the student-managed team that started in 2013.
“Team Sunergy competed with grace and finesse against elite universities — including MIT, University of California, Berkeley and Georgia Tech — in tests of skill, strategy, endurance and engineering expertise,” Everts said.
App State’s solar vehicle team has a history of success in international competitions against some of the world’s most elite institutions. In early August, Team Sunergy continued this tradition of success, blazing through the 2021 American Solar Challenge — finishing in first place for multiple-occupant vehicles, winning all three stages of the grueling road race, clocking nearly 965 miles and bringing home awards for teamwork and electrical design.
App State’s Chief Sustainability Officer Lee Ball thanked Everts for “lifting (the team) up from a student project to become the university-backed, institutionalized competition team it is today” and “for ensuring that their legacy and contributions to the solar racing industry will last.”
He also acknowledged the support of the Appalachian Community, noting that “these competitions have to be backed with institutional resources — faculty, staff, and sponsors.”
Commending the team for its teamwork, Ball said, “The pride we all have for these amazing students is amplified by the fact that they were a rookie team who carried forward a legacy of success during a global pandemic. The desire to work together as a team with a common goal is really the heart and soul of Team Sunergy.”
Two of the team members — Sam Cheatham, co-business director for the team, and Jessica Navarro-Luviano, team driver and co-mechanical director — also spoke.
During the ASC, Navarro-Luviano, a senior from Mocksville, drove the car across one of the more difficult — but not the most difficult — climbs. In her remarks, she recounted that challenge, the team’s strategy to go slow and steady, and her personal takeaway — “that sometimes the challenges you anticipate aren’t all that bad. You may cruise at a speed of 5 miles per hour,” she said, “but you overcome.” She also shared her formula for winning: “First, round yourself up some incredible, supportive advisors. Then, some young adults with a heart for sustainability, a mind for learning, and with a little bit of stubbornness, you got yourself a winning team.”
Cheatham, a senior from Mills River, said, “We turned the biggest obstacles into the biggest success that we could have achieved. We put our heads and hearts together to win one of the greatest sustainability challenges in the world.”
After the ceremony, Reid Kerr, a senior from Greensboro, took ROSE for a victory loop down the main street of Boone, across Rivers Street and back to ROSE’s garage on State Farm Road.
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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.