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June 13: Engineering Students Compete In International Solar Boat Race


Chriss Swaney                   

Carnegie Mellon Engineering Students To Compete
In International Solar Boat Race and Design Competition

Solar Splash TeamPITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's Andrew Choate plans to make waves with his team's handcrafted, solar-powered boat June 18-22 at the 15th World Championships of Solar/Electric Boating in Fayetteville, Ark.
"We see this as a chance to highlight our new, streamlined 16-foot boat," said Choate, a team leader. "This competition is great because it really lets us use all our dynamic engineering skills."
The competition, also known as the "Solar Splash," is the only international intercollegiate solar electric boat race that pits engineering students' home-built boats against one another. More than 20 teams from all over the world will converge on Lake Fayetteville to test their watercraft's speed and agility.
"The competition is really a great way to promote energy conservation while giving students hands-on engineering experience in a competitive setting," said Susan Finger, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon. "It is always fun working with these teams because they really put so much effort and passion into the entire process." 
Choate, a mechanical engineering major who graduated this past May, said the competition is challenging because it involves sprint, slalom and endurance races. Teams also must complete a comprehensive technical report one month prior to the competition.
Last year, the Carnegie Mellon team placed 10th.  But this summer, Choate vows to push the sleek, fiberglass hull to the limit.
In addition to the competition, this year's Solar Splash is designed to entice more youth to consider careers in engineering. The Fayetteville Public Library and the University of Arkansas' Electrical Engineering Department are giving local children a chance to build their own solar-powered boats.
As the use of fossil fuels becomes increasingly difficult, this competition will continue to help get young people excited about solar power, Choate said.

Pictured above: Carnegie Mellon Solar Splash team members work to build a fiberglass hull for their 16-foot solar electric boat.