Caterpillar supports Solar Vehicle Project: A story of giving

The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project earned an impressive second place finish in the 2010 American Solar Challenge.

It was an extraordinary finish for the College of Science and Engineering students who required an extraordinary effort from companies like Caterpillar, which made it possible with their generous support.

To show their appreciation, Solar Vehicle Project members drove their car to Caterpillar Paving Products, so people from the world’s largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment could see the student’s work of genius up close.

For the members of the Solar Vehicle Project, talking with the employees of Caterpillar about their solar-powered car was a way to give back for the financial support provided by the company over the years. “Without their continued support, we wouldn’t be able to build this car,” said Dan Vogl, a junior majoring in aerospace engineering and mechanics.

Jeff Voelz, Caterpillar worldwide marketing consultant, said the company believes in the value of real-life projects that brings students together to apply their knowledge gained in the classroom.

“Engineers are fascinated with the tools of the trade like computer programs and algorithms, but at the end of the day, you have to make stuff,” Voelz said.

“For members of the Solar Vehicle Project, the opportunity to gain this experience was invaluable, and by the end, the knowledge gained from producing a solar-powered vehicle was priceless,” Vogl said. For Caterpillar, it is testimonies like this that make the decision to support projects like Solar Vehicle easier. “Engineers, marketing people and future employers come out of projects like this,” Voelz said