WSU students drive innovation in Solar Car Project

Absolute electrode potential: Third-year engineering student Rohan Munjal, 23, of Seven Hills with Solar Car Project team mate Daniel Nemec, 21.

Absolute electrode potential: Third-year engineering student Rohan Munjal, 23, of Seven Hills with Solar Car Project team mate Daniel Nemec, 21.

A team of Western Sydney University (WSU) students are driving the way in innovation.

The 22 member Solar Car Project team – including students from the fields of engineering, industrial design and visual communications – are building a solar powered car to enter in the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Car Challenge from October 8-15.

The students manage every aspect of the production and design of the vehicle, as well as sponsorships, marketing and administrative elements.

Mario Trape of Rooty Hill is in his third year of a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree. “Engineering is my life,” the international student from Brazil said.

The 21-year-old began his first engineering internship as a student of a technical high school in Brazil at the age of 13. He is the electrical lead of the solar car project with the responsibility of ensuring the electrical systems within the solar car are functioning correctly.

“All aspects of the electrical systems – the circuits, batteries – are all thoroughly stress tested before they are fitted to the car. This is essential, to ensure that each element of the car is functioning and, mostly importantly, to ensure that the drivers will be safe,” Mr Trape said.

Acceleration power: International student from Brazil, Mario Trape of Rooty Hill. "Engineering is my life," the 21-year-old said.

Acceleration power: International student from Brazil, Mario Trape of Rooty Hill. "Engineering is my life," the 21-year-old said.

Team mate Grace Mitchell is the graphic lead. The 19-year-old is responsible for constructing a new website for the solar car team, as well as designing the livery of the vehicle.

The Quakers Hill resident said the design of the body of the car is under wraps until the official launch event in August, but she is excited to see it all come together.

“I’ve been working on a really interesting new design for the solar car, and I’m so excited that my design will be seen on a global scale,” she said. “Of all the practical work that I get to do in my degree, with this project I can say that my work is going towards something real.”

Ms Mitchell is also being considered as one of the race drivers for the Solar Car Challenge.

Adhesion: Grace Mitchell with Karl Monteiro. "Thinking about winning gives you all the encouragement that you need to keep going," Mr Monteiro said.

Adhesion: Grace Mitchell with Karl Monteiro. "Thinking about winning gives you all the encouragement that you need to keep going," Mr Monteiro said.

AJ Verma from the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics (SCEM) led the Solar Car Project in 2015 and is now a SCEM staff member supporting the 2017 team.

The Bachelor of Engineering graduate said the team are in a race against time to finish building the solar car and get it to Darwin.

“We have just shy of 70 days...in that time the solar car team will be working round the clock, sleeping in the lab and working in shifts to get the vehicle ready,” he said.

2017 marks the third time WSU have participated in the biannual challenge – which involves a 3000km drive from Darwin to Adelaide using only solar power.

  • Visit: solarcar.scem.westernsydney.edu.au.