SIUE hosts National Solar Car Conference


The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering teams is preparing for two significant competitions: the American Solar Challenge and the Formula Sun Grand Prix. (Photo courtesy of SIUE)

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering (SOE) hosted the Innovators Educational Foundation’s Solar Car Annual Conference this past weekend.

More than 190 students and advisors for solar car teams from around the United States and Canada, attended the event Friday-Sunday, Feb. 1-3.

The conference focused on the 2019 solar car competition regulations, and includes technical and other workshops for any teams interested in participating in upcoming competitions.

SIUE solar car team advisor Andy Lozowski, Ph.D., professor of electrical and computer engineering in the SOE, noted the timeliness of SIUE hosting the event.

“Nowadays, we see increased interest in self-driving car technology, automotive navigation systems and the ‘smart-city’ aspect of transportation,” he said. “All these technologies will be based on electric cars.

“Hosting the Solar Car Conference will help our students focus attention on the importance of electric cars and ways of powering them. And, certainly the event acknowledges the accomplishments of our student team and their diligent work that started more than a decade ago.”

Group meetings were held in the Morris University Center’s Meridian Ballroom or in the second-floor conference center. Breakout sessions were held in the SOE building.

Five solar car teams brought their vehicles to be displayed in the SOE building atrium.

The teams prepared for two significant competitions: the American Solar Challenge (ASC) and the Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP).

The ASC is a multi-day, 1,500-2,000-mile cross-country endurance rally across North America. The routes are always designed to provide teams with a great opportunity to demonstrate their solar cars under real world driving conditions and thoroughly test the reliability of all onboard systems.

The FSGP is an annual track competition that is held on grand prix or road style closed courses. This unique style of solar car racing is open to international teams and tests the limits of the vehicles in handling curves, braking and acceleration. On years when the ASC is held, FSGP serves as the qualifier event.

The Innovators Educational Foundation is an organization devoted to educational opportunities where students are challenged with hands-on learning experiences in the areas of science, engineering and technology. Students are encouraged to be innovative with ideas that will lead to developing better solutions to society’s challenges faced both in the U.S. and internationally. Its mission is to engage young minds with the hope of developing world leaders in these critical areas.