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Student Engineering Team Off to the Races at Winston Solar Challenge

Many of the students involved in the project are from Chamblee and Cross Keys high schools.


The DeKalb County Student Engineering Team is preparing to make history as the first team from Georgia to race a handmade, solar-powered car in the Winston Solar Challenge.

The challenge, a solar-powered vehicle competition among high school engineering teams, will kick off on July 14 at the Texas Motor Speedway near Dallas. The DeKalb student engineering team unveiled the body and parts for their vehicle in a press conference at . While many of the team's students are from Cross Keys, the team also includes representatives from Dunwoody High, Chamblee High and the Fernbank Science Center.

Endeavour Solar Racing Team, as the team is calling themselves, has been hard at work assembling the car at Middle Georgia Technical College, which has ample resources that they graciously let the team use. It has been handmade from the start by the students on the team, who put in at least 50 hours a week of work, if not more, on the car in various areas: building the body, assembling the solar panels and so on.

Endeavour is also the first team composed of high school students to accomplish a feat like this in Georgia. There are college teams that have done it or are doing it, like the SolarJackets at Georgia Tech (which allowed the Endeavour team use of its 24-hour motorsports facilities), but these students are the first of their kind.

The Winston Solar Challenge is less about speed and more about completion. Teams are scored not by how fast their cars can go--even though solar cars can sometimes hit 50 miles per hour--but by how many laps they complete and ensuring that they stay on the track. The Endeavour team will head to Dallas on July 12 to finish assembling the car and get ready for the multiple days of racing.

The team does need some help from the community, though, to get the show on the road. There are needs like money for tires, shirts and hats, ice pack jackets to keep the drivers cool, brake parts, solar batteries and more.

Groups like the Cross Keys Foundation, Viasat Inc. and Lintech International have given the team support, both directly and in kind, but now the team needs community stakeholders to help.

"The students have built this car one part at a time like the old Johnny Cash song and the community can make the difference for us right now," said Patrick Gunter, the team's coach and sponsor, who has been in racing competitions like Winston for many years (he raced a solar-powered BMW in 2000), but said the Endeavour team was the best he's ever had.

Visit solarcar2012.com to view Endeavour's progress and to donate.

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