TOPEKA, Kan. — Team Sunergy — Appalachian State University's student-run solar vehicle team — began its American Solar Challenge title defense by competing in the Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) in the multi-occupant vehicle (MOV) category July 5–7. The team completed 475 laps totaling 950 miles over the three-day track event at Heartland Motorsports Park, qualifying for the 1,470-mile 2022 American Solar Challenge.
“I am very proud of this year’s team! Their intelligence, determination and tenacity are awe inspiring,” said team co-lead adviser and App State Chief Sustainability Officer Lee Ball. “The FSGP was a tuneup for the American Solar Challenge, and I think we are well positioned for success. The experience and lessons learned will have a profound effect on these amazing students.”
The team arrived in Topeka with its MOV cruiser, ROSE (Racing on Solar Energy), on Thursday, June 30, to begin setting up for 16 days of intense solar competitions. While the team came in with the confidence of defending champions, there was an underlying concern. Team Sunergy had received the components to build the battery needed to power ROSE days before the team left Boone, North Carolina — meaning the battery pack was untested. After working through the night on battery mounts and electrical connections, ROSE moved under its own power just in time for scrutineering.
“This was the first time we were putting the battery in the car, and there were many small issues to address,” said Team Sunergy Business Director Sean Riordan, a senior economics major from Campobello, South Carolina. “All the work was worth it when ROSE was driving on its own power for the first time this year.”
Scrutineering included an intense, four-day inspection and review of ROSE’s mechanical and electrical components. Scrutineering also tests drivers through a series of dynamic driving challenges — some of them timed — that include braking, a U-turn challenge, a slalom course and a figure eight, all in a car without power steering.
Once the team passed scrutineering, it was on to the FSGP — a three-day track event held on Heartland Motorsports Park’s 2.5-mile road course. Each day teams have eight hours to complete as many laps as possible. The FSGP is used as a qualifier for the American Solar Challenge road race, which began July 9. This year’s American Solar Challenge road course will follow the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri, to Twin Falls, Idaho.
Sun + energy + synergy = Team Sunergy
Team Sunergy began in fall 2013 as a class project to build a solar-powered golf cart and developed into an interdisciplinary team of App State students, faculty and staff working together for one common goal: to research and develop solar-powered race cars.
Over the next three years, team members researched competitions and the equipment needed to compete. They wrote grant proposals and recruited peers from across App State’s majors to create a dynamic, interdisciplinary team. The student-led and student-driven project has achieved podium finishes in four years of racing competition against teams from top research and engineering programs across the U.S.
To track App State's progress in the 2022 American Solar Challenge, visit http://fleet.iosix.com/solar.
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About Sustainability at Appalachian
Appalachian State University’s leadership in sustainability is known nationally. The university’s holistic, three-branched approach considers sustainability economically, environmentally and equitably in relationship to the planet’s co-inhabitants. The university is an active steward of the state’s interconnected financial, cultural and natural resources and challenges students and others think critically and creatively about sustainability and what it means from the smallest individual action to the most broad-based applications. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate academic degree programs that focus on sustainability. In addition, 100 percent of Appalachian’s academic departments offer at least one sustainability course or course that includes sustainability, and all students graduate from programs that have adopted at least one sustainability learning outcome. Learn more at https://appstate.edu/sustainability.
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.