Basking in the sun: All Saints’ Episcopal School Solar Car Team wins division

Solar Car group photo TMS

The Solar Car Challenge

Each summer the All Saints’ team competes in the Solar Car Challenge. The Solar Car Challenge has been named one of the top project-based STEM initiatives in the country, helping motivate students in Science, Engineering and Alternative Energy.

Race History:

2018 – 1st place, Cross-Country Race

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2017 – 4th place, Track Race

2016 – 2nd place, Cross-Country Race

2015 – 3rd place, Track Race

2014 – 2nd place, Hybrid Race

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2013 – 6th place, Cross-Country Race

The 2018 race was a cross-country race from Fort Worth to Palmdale, California, July 17-23.

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After spending more than a year improving their solar car to be more efficient and aerodynamic, and a week driving the “Saint Helios” cross-country from Fort Worth to Palmdale, California (about 1,400 miles), the All Saints’ Episcopal School Solar Car Team won 1st place in the Electric-Solar Powered Division of the National Solar Car Challenge.

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This was a new race division designed for a two-passenger electric car powered by permanent solar charging stations. Coppell High School came in second in that division.

This was the All Saints’ team’s sixth year to race and first time to top their division.

The team also won three other awards throughout the race:

– Pi-Top Laptop Award, presented to the team that made the best use of the Pi-Top Laptop within their high school solar car project. Pi-Top is a fast-growing education technology company, with headquarters offices in London, Austin, and Shenzhen, China.

– Michael Foree Award was accepted by Matt Albritton and presented to the team member best utilizing computer technology and software design in the production and racing of their solar car.

– Order of the Solar Cell (to Michael Smat, also a 2018 graduate, headed to USC), presented to a student committed to solar car racing.

Guided by three faculty advisors – Lyle Crossley, Janet Trammell and Joe Morris – the Solar Car Team consists of 20 Upper School students who plan, design and build all aspects of the car. Students also gain valuable business knowledge and experience in marketing, sales, customer relationship management, finance and accounting.

“The team had a more intense focus on strategy than in previous years,” said Trammell, who teaches Upper School Science and Mathematics, as well as being a faculty adviser on the project.

“Students made telemetry a priority and race decisions were based on the data. By using the Pi-Top Learning System, the team was able to access to real time data, like tracking the car’s speed and battery pack remotely, which allowed the students to continually adjust their strategy based on road conditions and performance of the car,” Trammell said.

“A lot of teamwork goes into the car. With a large number of people on the team, we have to communicate efficiently to stay on the same page,” said Smat, who is headed to the University of Southern California to study engineering. “Making the car is only half of the problem; racing the car and working together has made the difference.”

Smat was a team captain, along with Albritton and Trent Barron.

Other teams winning awards included The Solar Cats from Davie, Florida, who took the top trophy in the Classic Division. Wylie High School, from Wylie, came in second in that division, followed by Covenant Christian Academy in Colleyville. Liberty Christian School in Argyle came in third in the Advanced Division.

The 2018 Solar Car Challenge was hosted by Texas Instruments. Other sponsors include Texas Motor Speedway, Lockheed Martin, Pi-Top Laptops, and the Lightner Sams Foundation.

– Robert Francis