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How far? How fast? – Using the sun for energy

by UofL Today last modified Apr 17, 2012 01:36 PM

A solar-powered air compressor launched a pneumatically propelled rocket the farthest and fastest of the other competing vehicles in the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research’s second annual Solar Flight Competition on April 13.

Students and faculty mentors start working in January on flight designs that incorporate solar energy. Their goal is to create a vehicle that will fly 100 yards. The Conn Center awards prizes for first, second and third places for the fastest 100-yard flights.

Competition was close, reported Andrew Marsh, Conn Center assistant director, but “in the end, the team that fused theory, creativity and strategy with execution was the winner.”

These are the results:

1st place – Chemical Engineering Team, assistant professor Eric Berson, mentor. Team members: Eli Wilborn, Cory Milligan, Tyler Dorsey, Robert Knear-Bell, Samantha Farmer.

Solar-powered air compressor launching a pneumatically propelled rocket.

2nd place – Engineering Fundamentals Team, assistant professor Jeff Hieb, mentor. Team members: Joseph Albrecht, Lukus Guhy, William Menkhaus, Jacqueline Orth, Caleb Sheehan and Nathalie Tapolsky.

Solar-powered battery charger for styrofoam airplane.

3rd place – Conn Center Team, research engineer Thad Druffel, mentor. Team members: Ezra Clark, Jason Absher, Sam Ellis, Gailen Wayne "GW" Bridges.

Solar-powered prop motors on scratch-built zeppelin.

Jerry Willing is the faculty director for the competition. Judges were Gamini Sumanasekera, associate professor of Physics; Matt Bohm, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering; and Steve Williamson, manager of technical services for Chemical Engineering.

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