WMU News

Sunseeker solar team will utilize skills from across University

June 10, 1999

KALAMAZOO--A traveling team of 14 students from across the University will take Western Michigan University's Sunseeker solar race car on the road June 20-29 to compete in Sunrayce 99, but they won't be alone.

The official race team will have the help of members of the campus community, ranging from the University's top-ranked aviation team, the Sky Broncos, to a host of fellow students and University personnel who will support their efforts both on the road and back on campus.

Sunseeker 454, the 1999 version of the University's solar racer, will compete against cars built by student teams from around the nation in Sunrayce 99. The 1,300-mile race will begin June 20 in Washington, D.C., and conclude June 29 at the Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla. Sunrayce is sponsored by General Motors, EDS and the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal of the race is to complete the route with the lowest elapsed time over the nine days of racing.

The 14 students and three WMU staff members who make up the traveling team represent dozens of students from across the University who have been involved in the Sunseeker project. Members of the traveling team, whose names were announced at the unveiling, include three student veterans of the 1997 race crew and students from a wide range of academic disciplines. The team will travel to Washington Sunday, June 13, to be there in time for pre-race activities.

Aiding the team in its race effort this year will be representatives of the University's School of Aviation Sciences. Members of WMU's top-ranked Sky Broncos flight team will accompany the Sunseeker team along the race route. Each day, the Sky Broncos will fly ahead of the vehicle and radio back information about road, traffic and weather conditions. In the event of persistent cloudy weather, the aviators may also be called upon to find the nearest available sunny conditions. Team members could then interrupt the car's race progress to travel to the nearest site where the solar car's batteries can be recharged.

Traveling with the team will be a number of support vehicles and staff. They include two vans equipped to provide materials for emergency repairs and adjustments. A truck and car trailer and a motor home, which serves as the team's logistical base, also will accompany the team.

This year's all new Sunseeker features an aerodynamic body design of carbon fiber composite and new nickel metal hydride batteries, developed specifically for use in electric vehicles. The team is looking for an additional competitive edge with a pair of in-hub motors that have eliminated the need for a transmission and drive train.

Sunseeker 454 made its first official appearance May 6-9 at Sunrayce qualifying events at GM's Proving Grounds in Milford, Mich. A chassis problem prevented the team from finishing the qualifying round, so the team will complete its qualification work during pre-race activities in Washington, D.C. Currently, 17 cars have completed qualification requirements for slots in the race that may eventually include up to 40 cars.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of WMU's involvement with the Sunrayce program. WMU students first began working on a solar-powered vehicle in 1989 to prepare for Sunrayce 90. WMU is one of only eight schools in the nation that has competed in all four races.

More information about WMU's Sunseeker team and links to the Sunrayce Web site are available on the WMU team's Web site at <www.wmich.edu/sunseeker>. During the race, daily updates on the team's progress will be available on a special phone line at (616) 387-8004 and in WMU/News <www.wmich.edu/wmu/news>.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

Media advisory: Below is the list of students who are members of the Sunseeker traveling team For each team member, the hometown, major, class year, parents' names (if available) and high school alma mater are listed. Key team positions also are noted. An asterisk * marks the names of team members who also were members of the 1997 crew.

University staff members who will travel with the team include Glenn Hall, laboratory supervisor in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, who will supervise maintenance activities; Jan Selesky, administrative assistant in the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, who will handle team logistics; and Fred Sitkins, team adviser and a professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering.


BARK RIVER-- *Jeffrey B. Scheuren is the chassis team leader. A senior majoring in mechanical engineering, he is the son of Duane and Pat Scheuren of 6246 F Lane. He is a 1995 graduate of Escanaba High School.

BAY CITY-- Ashley A. Brinn, one of the Sunseeker drivers, is an April graduate who majored in mechanical engineering. She is the daughter of Herbert and Mary Ann Brinn of 614 Nurmi Court and a 1994 graduate of Freeland High School.

CANTON-- *Demian Flores is a member of the aerodynamics team. He will graduate in June with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. The son of Frank and Mary Ann Flores of 47127 Bartlett, he is a 1995 graduate of Plymouth Salem High School

ESSEXVILLE-- Brey D. Hansford is a member of the power team. A senior majoring in electrical engineering, he is the son of Dan and Judith Hansford of 908 N. Powell and a 1996 graduate of Garber High School.

FARMINGTON HILLS-- Christopher J. Abate, one of the Sunseeker drivers, is a sophomore majoring in integrated supply management. The son of Ugo and JoAnn Abate of 24593 Westmoreland, he is a 1997 graduate of Detroit Catholic Central High School.

FENTON-- Ron B. Andrade, the Sunseeker team leader, is an April graduate who majored in accountancy. A 1994 graduate of Hartland High School, he is the son of Ron A. and Donna Andrade of 11389 Faussett Road.

HARTLAND-- Erik T. Pederson is the race crew chief. An April graduate with a degree in aeronautical engineering, he is the son of Thomas and Susan Pederson of 13245 Hyde Road. He is a 1994 graduate of Hartland High School.

HOLLAND-- *Brian K. Boardman is the strategy team leader. A junior majoring in aviation flight science, he is the son of Lorraine Boardman of Berryville, Va., and Robert Boardman of 263 Littlestation Road, Holland.

KALAMAZOO-- Dennis Boylon is a power team member. A senior majoring in electrical engineering, he is the son of Patricia Boylon of 209 N. Berkley. He is a 1989 graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School.

LUDINGTON-- Chris M. Winczewski is a member of the strategy team. An April graduate with a degree in computer engineering, he is the son of Mike and Kathy Winczewski of 408 N. Rowe St. He is a 1995 graduate of Ludington High School.

ONAWAY-- Travis J. Bailey is the solar array team leader. A senior majoring in computer systems engineering, he is the son of Melinda Bailey of Harbor Springs, Mich., and Travis Bailey of Fernandina Beach, Fla. He graduated from Onaway High School in 1995.

PORTAGE-- Matt Johnson is a member of the aerodynamics team. A sophomore majoring in aeronautical engineering and physics, he is the son of Jerry and Sherri Johnson of 6140 Baywood. He is a 1997 graduate of First Assembly Christian High School.

STERLING HEIGHTS-- Matthew Belanger is the power team leader. An April computer engineering graduate, he is the son of Donna and Thomas Belanger of 43641 Peso Court. He is a 1995 graduate of Henry Ford II High School.


Edwin Weng Hong Cheong, one of the Sunseeker drivers, is a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. He is the son of Kok Keong Cheong and Bee Peng Lim of 18 Taman Kampung Gelam, 7100 Port Dickson.

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