How is a tradition of excellence born? Determination, endurance, and in success or failure, always seeking the “what ifs” in pursuit of constant improvement. Over 25 years and 12 generations of solar vehicles, the University of Michigan Solar Car Team has demonstrated these traits and achieved such success that in the world of competitive sport, their team may very well be referred to as a ‘dynasty’. Their impressive record includes eight National Championship wins, five Top-Three World Finishes, and one International Championship title. They have dominated competitions all over the world, including wins in Abu Dhabi and with their most recent victory in the 2014 American Solar Challenge, are now again considered the #1 team in America.
This past Friday, the team celebrated their 25th anniversary of competition with the unveiling of their 13th vehicle, a completely new and redesigned solar vehicle named Aurum. The event was held at the Henry Ford Museum – a perfect place to showcase the evolution and innovation of automobiles – and was completely organized by the team, which consists of 70 students from over 15 different majors. Nearly 200 attendees were present to witness the unveiling of Aurum, including the Dean of Engineering, alumni, professors, sponsors, media, and family members.
It was a very impressive event, and it was an honor for me to speak to attendees about Altair’s involvement and history with the University of Michigan and the Solar Car teams. Altair has demonstrated continuous collaboration with the University of Michigan for over 20 years, and our software is used in a variety of curriculum areas and by various competitive teams at the Wilson Interdisciplinary Center. In fact, Crew Chief Arnold Kadiu even worked as an intern at Altair two years ago, and helped us improved our composite optimization training material based on his experience with our products…the young man is already a very good engineer. We really enjoy our involvement with UofM and are always impressed by the level of knowledge, energy and professionalism in the young people we meet.
This year we are very proud to be a 2015 Platinum Sponsor for the solar car team. This team continues to build on their tradition of excellence and push the envelope of solar car development. We’re especially excited to see how this new car performs, as extensive use was made of Altair’s HyperWorks software in the design process. The Aurum team began using Altair’s OptiStruct software early in the design and development of the vehicle and continued throughout the engineering and build process. The vehicle has a sleek new aerobody with an asymmetrical catamaran design, and the mechanical system was optimized for weight reduction, while increasing overall strength and reliability.
The team will be testing Aurum’s capabilities during a mock race throughout the Midwest, starting today in northern Michigan near Petoskey. Altair’s Creative Director, Ralph Krawczyk, and I will be filming and following the team today during their scheduled stop in Grand Haven, and cheering them on as they travel through my hometown of Kalamazoo (what a great way to spend a Friday afternoon!).
The University of Michigan Solar Car Team will then take Aurum to Australia this fall to compete in a journey of 3,000km in the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.
We are extremely impressed at the success the University of Michigan Solar Car Team has achieved so far, and how the team has excelled with their unrelenting hard work. We wish them the best of luck in Australia!
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