Team PrISUm finishes American Solar Challenge at the speed limit

AMES, Iowa - The students of Team PrISUm kept their solar-powered car at the speed limit for most of the final 110 miles of the American Solar Challenge on Saturday.

The strong finish wasn't enough to move Iowa State's team above 11th place among the 13 teams still racing the 1,100-mile race from Broken Arrow, Okla., to Naperville, Ill. Electrical problems at the beginning of the race put Anthelion (Iowa State's car is named after the rare halo that can appear opposite the sun) hours behind most of its competitors.

But, team members kept on making repairs and kept on racing.

Now, "The car is really fast," said Pat Sanderson, a senior from Iowa City who's majoring in mechanical engineering and is the team's project director. "We went as fast as they'd let us go."

That led to Team PrISUm overtaking four teams on the road today.

And there was more good news: Sanderson said last night's repairs produced a cruise-control system that worked the entire day.

Team PrISUm and the other competitors will show off their solar-powered cars at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago on Sunday. Then it's back to campus for rest, internships and summer jobs.

So the team finished the American Solar Challenge much stronger than it started it.

"Given the problems we had," Sanderson said, "we wish this race was longer."

These are the teams and solar-powered cars that raced in this year's American Solar Challenge. The students of Team PrISUm are wearing the bright blue shirts in the back row. Team PrISUm photo.