The Solar Vehicle Project at UMN Gears up for a New Year


The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project is kicking off another year and welcoming new students onto the team. The team is composed of approximately 100 students and is funded by the university along with donations from sponsors. Over the years, SVP has built 13 solar vehicles and competed in over 30 competitions across four countries. 

Ishaan Mittal, Director of Operations, said, “Other than the real-world engineering experience that SVP provides, it also helps students realize how corporate structure works as we have many interdisciplinary teams constantly working together to achieve a common goal, including non-engineering teams such as the finance and marketing teams.” 

The team’s last car, Eos ll, was one of the only cruiser cars to finish the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, received 1st place in the Formula Sun Grand Prix and 2nd in the 2018 American Solar Challenge.

“Being on the U of M Solar Car Team is such a privilege because there is no other student group that provides a better combination of real-world design experience, member camaraderie, and subsystems to spark the interest of any major.” - Matt Martinez

SVP is currently working on their first four-seat solar powered vehicle, named Freya l. To build a solar car, students start by creating molds from tooling foam. After the mold is made, it is taken to a Delta Airline Composite Shop to create a carbon fiber shell, followed by a carbon fiber chassis to keep the car together.

Extra elements that are designed from scratch are then added to give the car whatever features it needs. Students also make a lithium ion battery pack and an electric motor for the car to be able to drive up to 70 mph.

Amethyst O’Connell said, “SVP is a great place where I am able to practice what I have learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world, all while furthering my career plans and meeting my potential.”

“Solar car has given me opportunities to meet other engineering students around the world who might someday be my coworkers in industry,” Ashley Law said. “It expands my view on what an engineering degree can allow you to do.”