After traveling over 3,000 kilometers across the Australian Outback last October in the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team’s (SEVT) Arcturus returned to its birthplace with a public showing in Memorial Lobby. Thanks to the initiative of the team members, the MIT community had the opportunity to view Arcturus live.
Every two years, a team of 20 MIT students builds a vehicle to compete in the World Solar Challenge. There are three divisions, and Arcturus raced in the most competitive. According to the team’s captain, Priya Kikani ‘17, the vehicle “placed about in the middle of the cars in the 2015 competition.” The competition includes vehicles built by colleges from around the world.
“We are well into the design of the next vehicle,” explained Kikani, “we want to make it lighter so it can go faster. We are using aerodynamic simulations to change the shape of the car. We are going for an asymmetric design. This reduces the drag of the car.”
Freshman Veronica LaBelle could be seen talking to guests. Although LaBelle previously had little knowledge about cars, working with the team has taught her much about how cars function. “I feel like I previously had no inkling or knowledge of mechanical systems, or what is under the hood,” she said. “We work with things very hands-on. It helps me grasp the concepts more.”
“A good number of freshmen” get involved, she said, explaining that “it’s very free-spirited as far as getting involved, even for people with no experience.”
“I learned a lot in my classes,” said Kikani, “but if someone asked me where I learned the most about engineering it was as a part of this team.”