Meet the Flinders Automotive Solar Team, or FAST for short.
The dedicated band of road tech warriors are working around the clock to get the latest incarnation of the Flinders solar car, Investigator, to the starting- and finishing- line of this year’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.
With support from industry partners, sponsors, Flinders University staff and students, the team will take part in a STEM outreach program in several rural and remote schools en route to pole position in Darwin on 13 October.
A fundraiser at Brainhackr, a board games cafe in Prospect on 12 July, will contribute towards the vital funds needed by the team to get the vehicle to competition standard for its 3000km week-long Darwin to Adelaide journey.
Business Operations project lead, BSc in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry student Melanie Ward, encourages everyone to lend a hand – regardless of their degree.
“While it’s run by volunteers, students will find our club functions a lot like a start-up environment. There are plenty of opportunities to gain skills that will make you valuable in any future employment,” she says.
“Students can help as part of their work integrated learning placement or as a volunteer experience.”
Melanie was joined by David Branford (BSc Computer Science), Jamie Keegan-Treloar (BMathSc), Michael Graham (BInfTech) and Cameron Pike (BEng(Mech)(Hons)) at the event’s annual launch at Victoria Square this month.
Jamie Keegan-Treloar is a student who took part in a year 10 work placement program at Flinders that later led to his enrolment.
“He’s been a fantastic addition to the team. We appreciate his contribution to the preparations for this month’s event launch and he hopes to join us in the competition,” Melanie says, noting the help of other key supporters including academic director Dr Stuart Wildy and community volunteer Jade Wildy in the 2019 bid.
The Flinders community is invited to support the venture, including by buying tickets to the Brainhackr Games Night at 208 Prospect Rd, Prospect 6.30pm-9.30pm on the 12th of July. Tickets can be booked on Eventbrite for $25 per person.
The team is also inviting tax-deductible donations via www.fastsolar.com.au/make-a-donation and continues to seek industry and private sector support. Follow the team’s progress on Instagram and Twitter @flinderssolar and Facebook Flinders Automotive Solar Team.
This year’s event has attracted 53 teams from 24 countries, with 23 teams from 13 countries in the Cruiser Class and the Challenger Class attracting 30 high-tech, high speed machines, from 17 countries.
Event Director Chris Selwood says the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is even more relevant today than when it was first run in 1987.
“BWSC solar cars are no longer the realm of fantastic, imaginary vehicles dreamed up by enthusiasts and niche inventors,” he says.
“The research and development being tested in this event now makes its way into mainstream commercialisation, such as Bridgestone.
“With the Paris Agreement deadlines, European bans and phasing out of petrol and diesel cars becoming a reality, the BWSC is globally significant,” Mr Selwood says.
Flinders University volunteers will team up with a CSIRO and Aurora Solar Car team to deliver the ‘hands on’ BWSC Outreach program.
The joint BWSC/Mission Innovation Smart Grid Pitch Competition will also be held at the event’s new Cruiser Pavilion in Adelaide.
Teams will pitch solar and smart grid technology that has start-up potential, to a panel of recognised experts including Glenn Platt, Research Director, Grids and Energy Efficiency Systems, CSIRO; Danny Kennedy, Managing Director, California Clean Energy Fund and CEO, New Energy Nexus; John O’Brien, Partner Energy Transition & Renewables, Deloitte; and Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-Founder of Lightyear, a revolutionary solar car start-up company borne from Dutch team Eindhoven’s Cruiser Class success in the challenge.
The record-breaking 2019 field includes first-time countries, international ‘top guns’ and one of the strongest home-grown contingents, with eight Australian teams to fly the Aussie flag.
Three SA teams from Flinders University, Adelaide University and TAFE SA, will be joined by new national team, ATN Solar Car team, which includes representation from a fourth SA University, UniSA, along with RMIT, UTS, UQ and Curtin.
Making up the remaining Australian contingent are ANU in Canberra, Queensland’s Clenergy Team Arrow, University of NSW and Western Sydney University, the first international team to win the American Solar Challenge last year, Mr Selwood says.