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MSU engineering students building solar-powered car

Posted at 6:24 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 20:24:54-04

BOZEMAN, Mont. – The Bridger Solar Team at Montana State University is doing something that hasn’t been done in more than two decades.

Its been a work in progress since September of 2017, but the dreams of these engineering students are finally coming to life as they finish building a solar car.

“I’ve actually run into the old team back in the ’90s; actually I met the professor that ran the team. I got some parts from him and some advice and one of the things he wanted to see is the team goes on, and I really wanted to show him that. I believe we have a good team now and hopefully, it’ll be for years to come,” Project Director Levi Allery said.

Allery had dreams of building a solar car and bringing a club to campus back in 2017, and with the interest of his classmates, that dream came true.

The car the team has built is one of the most environmentally friendly cars out there.

Allery said, “so the light comes down, it will shine on our solar panels which creates our energy. That energy then goes to our battery storage system sitting in the back of the car. We then take that energy and run it to our motor and run it to all of our other electrical systems and we continuously charge and discharge throughout the day to power the car.”

Once complete, the car will be registered in the state of Montana and have all of your typical car features.

It’s not ready to drive quite yet, but once it’s done it’ll only weigh about 350 pounds.

The team has also been able to simulate various scenarios on the computer to protect the driver.

“To make sure that whoever we put inside the car will stay safe in the event of an accident, and that’s a really cool thing I get to do because it’s real life. So there are possibilities of this car could crash or some part failing, and we want to design it in and build it so that it minimizes the risk of injury or something worse than that,” said Cameron Blas, engineering director for the project.

This summer, the team is racing in Austin, Texas at an international competition, something that’s been a goal for quite some time.

“It feels amazing to see this thing rolling around, going and running under its own power, just to see all of these designs we’ve been working with and all the weekends coming to fruition and turning in to what we wanted it to is pretty incredible,” Electrical Engineering Project Manager Scott Smith said.

The team and the car will be at MSU’s Earth Day Celebration on Friday along with the City of Bozeman’s Earth Day festivities on Saturday.