The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project
is a student organization formed in 1990 to design, build, and race a world class solar powered race car. In January 1991 ,the group gained acceptance as an official project of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Since then, the group has grown from a few interested students to a dedicated team of over 50 people.
After extensive research and development, the group, and their car Aurora, were selected as one of the 36 Universities to compete in Sunrayce 93. Held in June, the race will travel through the heart of the United States, starting in the Dallas area and finishing here in the Twin Cities six days later. To insure the teams will be well prepared, Sunrayce officials required that the teams qualify by completing a 50 mile course in under 2.5 hours, an average of 20 miles per hour.
After over a week of working around the clock, the team was overjoyed to see their car make its maiden voyage at the Indianapolis Speedway, for the Eastern Regional Qualifier. The car was now real, and it was magnificent.
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and wind tunnel testing were used to create a truly revolutionary aerodynamic design. On its second day of existence with only one sixth of the solar array in place, the car qualified with an average speed of 35 miles per hour. With some key refinements, Aurora will be exactly what the group always strived for, the state of the art.