AURORA Inspires the Next Generation
by Tim Timmerman, Aerospace Engineering Senior, and Bill Frauly, Aerospace Engineering Graduate
One of the many rewards of working on the Aurora project is that it provides a change for me to teach the next generation of engineers. One of the ways this is done was through a class for elementary students at the Science Museum of Minnesota called "Solar Cars of the Future!"
The class, which met on three consecutive Saturday afternoons, covered various topics regarding the design of solar cars. For example, the key principals of aerodynamics were explained with a class discussion about the 1/4 scale wind tunnel model. Electrical systems were demonstrated and the class made their own electric circuit. Mechanical systems such as belts, chains, and frame design were modeled using Legos.
The kids were then split into teams to design cars. They were given a budget and catalog of necessary parts, such as solar cells, shocks and wheels. The young students learned to weigh the advantages of a part against its weight and price.
The class was topped off with a visit to the University, First they visited the Aurora shop, where they saw the car first hand, and then the computer labs where they were shown how the latest in computer technology aided the design process. The kids, thoroughly enjoyed the class and hope to be at the finish line cheering Aurora's victory.
The University of Minnesota's Solar Vehicle Project has begun Project Outreach, an educational program for students of all ages.
The basic idea of the program is to involve younger students with science and technology and enhance their learning. For example, after the race Aurora will be traveling to schools to display the car.
We are also producing a student race kit which willl enable students to follow Aurora during Sunrayce 93. Race packets will be available preceeding the race. In addition we are planning to provide elementary students an oportunity to build model solar cars to race against fellow students in their own version of Sunrayce.
Help nurture the future engineers, scientists and leaders of tomorrow, today by becoming involved with Project Outreach. Please send us your ideas and suggestions.