The University of Michigan Solar Car Team is a 501(c)3 non-profit entity and an entirely student-run organization, the purpose of which is to design, finance, build, and race a solar-powered vehicle in competitions around North America and the world. The team is dedicated to the development of its members as teammates, educators, and leaders, and to the education of the public about the potentials of alternative energy technology. Students who volunteer for the Solar Car Team are typically undergraduates, and they come from a wide range of academic disciplines, including majors within the College of Engineering, the Ross School of Business, and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
The University of Michigan 2007 Solar Car, named Continuum, was recently unveiled after 18 months of design and development. The team’s strategy involved making the lightest, yet strongest possible car. Continuum must endure typical road conditions as well as rugged weather conditions while maintaining a lightweight design that uses the least possible amount of energy. The University of Michigan team plans to compete in the World Solar Challenge in Australia October 21- 28, 2007. The Panasonic World Solar Challenge is a biennial event based on a competitive field of solar cars crossing the Australian continent powered by nothing but the sun. Teams are required to research, build and design vehicles capable of completing the 3000km journey from tropical Darwin in the Northern Territory, to cosmopolitan Adelaide in South Australia.
The final design for Continuum includes many delicate control panels and circuits that control various functions of the car from cruise control to the lighting system. One primary component that needed protection was their power distribution unit that converts the 150v battery voltage to 12v and 5v to power all of the electronics in the car. Anything metallic was quickly declined because of weight. Some thermoplastic materials met the weight needs of the car, but Stahlin’s fiberglass composite material met both weight and rigidity requirements for the vehicle.
For the third year in a row, the University of Michigan Solar Car Team was accommodated by the ModRightT program at Stahlin Non-Metallic Enclosures. Stahlin’s design team was able to create several custom enclosures to the exact size and performance specifications required by the University of Michigan Solar Car Team, while still meeting the program’s weight requirements. The custom-made enclosures work just as desired, and the solar car engineers know their sensitive components are well protected.
Chris Hammond, crew member on the University of Michigan Solar Car Team stated: “We feel the enclosures Stahlin made for us are great. The power distribution box, a critical component, was completed thanks to one of their custom enclosures. Other Stahlin enclosures are in use for our battery pack and lockboxes. All are doing the job we needed them to do.”