Florida Polytechnic University students build solar racing car for national competition

LAKELAND, Fla. - FOX 13's Carla Bayron got to take a solar car prototype for a spin on Florida Polytechnic University's campus Friday. Students are building the solar racing car from scratch.

On a rainy and cloudy day, the car can charge at 20% of its capacity or at 100 watts of power.

In full sunlight, it charges at 600 watts. The car can go up to 45 miles per hour.

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A junior at the department of Mechanical Engineering, Spencer Blackwell is the project's team president. The project is an extracurricular course.

"This is as close as you can get to a real application of the project because you're combining mechanical, electrical, operations. All sorts of different areas of expertise," said Blackwell.

Once the car is finished with a new body design, it will compete for the first time in the Formula Sun Grand Prix in Kentucky, an engineering team competition. It's a 3-day race on a track and whichever team does the most laps wins.

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"It's a big step forward in our growth," explained Dr. Matt Bohm, a professor of Mechanical Engineering. "They're having a faculty-supervised team showing up to a competition racing against MIT, University of Florida, and University of Michigan. It adds some pressure to it but it's also exciting."

Winning would be a true underdog story.

"I don't want to be last, so if we had a middle of the road finish for the first time, that would be a great success," said Bohm.

Although, they've won already by paving the way for the future of the program.

"It's leaving behind a legacy and leaving something for students to enjoy," said Blackwell.

The team would like the solar car to be ready by March, so they can fix all the bugs to be ready for the competition in July.