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New Sunseeker ready for cross-country solar race

June 10, 2010

KALAMAZOO--The 2010 version of Western Michigan University's solar racecar Sunseeker was unveiled June 10 on campus, just hours before a team of student engineers were scheduled to head to Texas for a round of race qualifying events.

The sleek, gold three-wheeled vehicle was given its first public exposure as team members, families, engineering faculty and staff, and area media gathered to view it during a brief ceremony at WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The new Sunseeker is lighter and more aerodynamic than previous WMU racers, weighing in at about 650 pounds with the driver on board.

The new Sunseeker has been in development for the past 18 months and will bear the WMU colors for the 2010 Formula Sun Grand Prix and American Solar Challenge. The FSGP track race will take place June 16-18 in Cresson, Texas. The ASC cross-country road race will start June 20 in Tulsa, Okla., and conclude June 26 in Chicago.

A team of 10 engineering students and two advisors will head to Cresson for the ASC qualifying events--four days of scrutineering to evaluate all the vehicle systems and the FSGP track race to ensure the vehicles are up to the demands of the road trip.

This year's race marks the 10th time WMU students have participated in the biennial ASC solar race that features the best engineering schools from the United States and Canada. WMU vehicles have placed as high as sixth and captured best design awards in post-race ceremonies. WMU is one of only a handful of teams in North America to have participated in all nine previous races.

Collegiate competitors in the 2010 event will race for 1,100 miles through four states on a course chosen to combine pieces of routes used in previous events, adding a bit of a historical tribute for the 20 years of organized solar racing events in North America.

A total of 17 teams from universities around the nation and from Canada, Taiwan and Germany are registered to compete. The only other Michigan entry is from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Student members of Sunseeker racing team

Joshua Allen
Sophomore aeronautical engineering major from Reese, Mich.

Megan Derwich
Junior mechanical engineering major from Livonia, Mich.

Alex Hoeksema
Sophomore electrical engineering major from Portage, Mich.

Byron Izenbaard
Junior electrical engineering major from Vicksburg, Mich.

Nicholas Killoran
Senior mechanical engineering major from Macomb, Mich.

Madeline McAuley
Graduate student in manufacturing engineering from Farmington, Mich.

Andrew Oman
Senior mechanical engineering major from Plainwell, Mich.

Mitchel Panek
Sophomore mechanical engineering major from Grand Rapids, Mich.

Courtney Rawlings
May WMU graduate, master's in manufacturing engineering

Jesse Wick
Graduate student in computer science from Battle Creek, Mich.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

WMU News
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Western Michigan University
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