GHS Solar Car Team Highlights Seventh National Championship | tidings

This Wednesday, the Greenville High School Iron Lions Solar Car Team will check into Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth as they prepare for a bid for a seventh national championship in the 2022 Solar Car Challenge.

In the past, the team has typically competed in multiple divisions. For example, last year they competed in both the “solar electric” division (cars that use batteries that charge in solar bays and must be able to carry a passenger and cargo) and the advanced division (cars with solar energy body-mounted cells that are the highest type of performance vehicles). This year, however, the Iron Lions are putting all their eggs in the advanced division basket with their “world-class solar machine,” which they’ve dubbed Invictus – meaning “unbeatable.”

This will be the team’s second year using Invictus, which they built during the 2020-21 school year.

“We were able to make the car because we had the right students at the right time because it required a lot of computer-aided design,” Iron Lions head mentor Joel Pitts said. “They had to do months of research to decide what their goals were, then they had to build it virtually because it’s too sophisticated to build on the fly.”

“Every day, these students are still learning something new about the potential of this machine,” Pitts added. “These kids are on par with or surpass a lot of college teams.”

As much as the Iron Lions worked on their car last year, the 2021 solar car challenge was bittersweet for the team, as they won first place in the solar electric division with an older car, the Regulus, while the Invictus finished in advanced division. in the third place.

Despite not finishing in first place, the Invitus’ finish in its first year of competition was still impressive, considering the car was sidelined on the fourth and final day of the race due to a safety issue with the car’s electrical system. . In other words, the car was so far ahead after the first three days of racing that even after sitting down on day four, it still finished third (of the six teams that competed in the advanced division).

“They worked so hard on the car last year that many of them cried when they found out they couldn’t race on the last day,” said assistant coach George Kroncke.

Determined to overcome the issues that compromised the Invictus’ performance last year, the 11 students who will represent the Iron Lions in the Solar Car Challenge have spent these last hot summer weeks troubleshooting and continuing to fine-tune the Invictus .

“With our battery, we were using nickel-soldered connections, which were damaged, but now we’re using little plastic connectors that just slide into place, which means we can replace a single cell if it goes bad in instead of having to replace the whole battery and the referees will give us less penalties,” said Iron Lion Daniel Pitts, who will be a senior.

Another penalty-saving measure the team has tackled is making sure their car’s horn is loud enough to cope with the frequent honking required in the race, as drivers are required to honk every time they pass a other vehicle.

“We just use a regular car horn, but they’re not meant to be used as much as we use them, so they can wear out. What we did is we added a second horn so that if one burns out, we can flip a switch and use the other horn,” said Iron Lion Anika Escobar, who will also be a senior this school year.

By the time this story goes to press, the Iron Lions will have completed numerous driving tests, including an endurance drive from Commerce to Paris and a team driving test. Following the team’s inspections this Wednesday, they will spend the next three days going through a rigorous “scrutiny” process, in which judges will ensure each car meets standards for structural integrity, braking, electrical and battery requirements. the ability of the car to move. for a long period of time and other criteria.

The judging also includes student presentations and question-and-answer sessions between judges and team members.

“Kids get a lot more out of this than just being able to work on a car,” Kroncke said. “Communication and presentation skills are also a big part of it.”

“By doing that, they really become well-rounded young people.”

On Sunday, July 17 through Wednesday, July 20, the Iron Lions will take the Invictus through four days of racing against five other teams in the advanced division, including last year’s first and second place teams – by Raisback Aviation High School in Tukwila Washington and Covenant Christian Academy in Colleyville, Texas, respectively.

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