Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Solar Car Team -- Winners Before the Race Began

Solar Car team members come from a University-wide range of disciplines, including the College of Engineering, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.  As many as 200 volunteer students throw themselves into the effort of designing, building and racing a solar car -- that includes all of the business and logistics involved in any large-scale operation.


Of those 200 students, 23 have traveled to Australia to compete in the 2009 World Solar Challenge. But they're all there in sprit and all winners before the follow team members set foot on Australian soil.




Steve Hechtman, the race manager for the 2009 team, graduated from U-M in May 2009 with BSE in electrical engineering. He's been a member of the team since his first semester, and the 2009 World Solar Challenge (WSC) is his trip to the contest. Hechtman was one of Continuum's drivers during WSC 2007 and the 2008 North American Solar Challenge (NASC). He's originally from the Washington, D.C., suburb of Vienna, Virginia, and has been interested in computers and cars since his childhood.



Alex Dowling joined the team's Strategy Division just weeks into his college career. During his three years on the team, he's served the team the interim strategy director during the 2007 WSC, head strategist during the 2008 NASC, strategy director for the Infinium project, and as head strategist for WSC 2009. Dowling is a senior in Chemical Engineering department and plans to pursue a PhD. Skilled at the keyboard, he writes simulations for the everyday needs of his teammates.



John Federspiel, the team's crew chief and director of the Engineering Division, is studying mechanical engineering and will graduate in the spring of 2011. Federspiel has been on the team since his first year in college and traveled to Australia for the World Solar Challenge in 2007. He helped develop the solar concentrator system used for Continuum in the 2007 WSC, and was a member of the NASC 2008 Race Crew.



Rachel Unger recently graduated with a BS in economics and environment and has been looking forward to the World Solar Challenge. Passionate about renewable energy and sustainable transportation, she joined the Solar Car Team about a year ago and has since been working with the Operations Division. Unger, originally from a Washington, D.C. suburb in Maryland, is also interested in politics and policy.



Aubrey da Cunha is a member of the Strategy Division, specializing in simulation and optimization. Originally from Cottonwood, Arizona, he joined the team in September, drawn by the complex problem of energy management. Despite being a newer member of the team, da Cunha is a valuable member of the Infinium project. When he's not writing software for the team, da Cunha is a graduate student in mathematics studying computational complexity theory.



Josh Feldman, a member of the team's Strategy Division, is in charge of data handling and communication between race vehicles. He's entering his third year as a computer-science student in the College of Engineering. Originally from Long Island, New York, Feldman raced with the team in the 2008 North American Solar Challenge. He's enthusiastic about the team's accomplishments and looks forward to helping propel the team to the world championship.



Santosh Kumar joined the Strategy Division of the team in his junior year. Born and raised in Singapore, he's currently studying aerospace engineering and is using his talents in math and science to help Infinium run the WSC's Stuart Highway as fast as possible. Kumar contributes regularly to the team's Quote Wall and spends a lot of time building with Lego blocks, running down soccer balls and watching cherry blossoms.



Chris McMeeking is new to the team's Strategy Division this year. A junior majoring in Computer Science in the College of Engineering, he works specifically in the areas of meteorology and weather forecasting and is putting his talents to work for the team on its bid to win the World Solar Challenge. When not working on Solar Car, McMeeking enjoys watching the Detroit Red Wings, who (he claims) are on their way to another Stanley Cup Championship.



Julia Hawley joined the Solar Car Team as a member of the Business Division her sophomore year. She started out doing marketing and events for the team and was elected Business Director that January. She's found her solar car experience invaluable, describing it as the most challenging yet rewarding experience of her life. Excited about traveling with the team to Australia, she hopes that Infinium will bring the WSC championship back to the United States. Hawley isn't sure what she would like to do when she "grows up," but she hopes to run a marathon and live in Argentina or Spain at some point in her life.



Ethan Lardner joined the Operations Division of the team in the fall of his freshman year. Now a sophomore engineer, the Milan, Illinois, native typically logs more than 900 miles a week in his personal Ford truck. He played an integral part in Infinium's production. His official team duties make him responsible for outfitting the support vehicle and semi trailer, operations procurement and kangaroo wrangling. When he isn't driving his truck for solar car purposes, Lardner enjoys boating, hunting, camping and playing his cello.



Jeff Rogers has been on the team for about five years as a member of the Micro-Electrical Engineering Division. He's a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and is the most senior active member of the Solar Car team. As the lead micro-electrical engineer on the team, Rogers does his best to delegate work and transfer knowledge to less experienced team members. Outside of his solar car involvement, he spends time at Toyota Technical Center working on integrated vehicle systems. In his free time he tinkers with computers, cooks meals with friends and keeps his other teammates in check.



Jeremy Nash joined the Micro-Electrical Engineering Division of the team within his first weeks of transferring to the College of Engineering. He's a micro-electrical engineer entering his third year of studies in Computer Engineering. He's managed to find time to write a pop song that aired on the radio, act in a German film, learn Mandarin Chinese, rebuild homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and enter a jazz duel in concert with Geoffrey Keezer. He's also a biomedical device researcher at the WuMRC Laboratory in Ann Arbor, where he works on diagnosing vascular access failure in hemodialysis patients.



Sudeep Rohatgi joined the Power Electrical Division during his first semester at Michigan and is thrilled to be designing and racing Infinium. He's entering his third year of studies in electrical engineering. After spending a summer researching organic solar cells, Rohatgi became interested in energy conversion devices and started designing Infinium's solar array. Outside of his solar car work, he plays ultimate Frisbee, spends time with family and friends, listens to music and reads.



Ethan Stark joined the Power Electrical Engineering Division last fall at the first chance he got after arriving here from sunny California and has been on it ever since. Just finishing his first year at Michigan Engineering, he's very excited to be in Australia and even more excited to win. Outside of his team activities, Stark is a member of Theta Tau Professional Engineering fraternity and is an engineering-physics major.



Gerald Chang joined the solar car team in his freshman year as a member of the Mechanical Engineering Division. Now a second year student, he helped the 2008 race crew power the team to Michigan's fifth national championship. He also led mechanical engineers during the design phase and now makes sure he does everything he can to make Infinium a world-champion solar car. He says that the 2009 World Solar Challenge will be "the greatest event of my life."



Chris Hilger has been a member of the Mechanical Engineering Division of the team since the beginning of his freshman year. Currently studying chemical engineering, he's the head of sourcing for the team, a position in which he gets involved with both the engineering and the business aspects of the project. He's served as a mechanical engineer since production of Infinium was completed. After graduation, he hopes to launch an alternative energy company. In his free time, Hilger enjoys water sports, traveling and spending time with family and friends.



Dylan Reitzell joined the Aero Engineering Division of the team during his freshman year mainly to promote an environmental message but also because of his love to create new things and in hopes of using his Aerospace Engineering knowledge. After spending the last year and half helping to design the body of the car, Reitzell is very excited to have built and now to race Infinium in Australia.



Eric Relson joined the Mechanical Engineering Division within his first month at the University of Michigan. His work for the Solar Car Team is largely mechanical and hands-on. Ever since joining the team, he's "progressed from swallowing LEGOS to breathing carbon-fiber dust." Relson is a native of Ann Arbor and just finished his third year as an undergraduate studying nuclear engineering -- a discipline that, he said, his high school's robotics team sparked him to pursue.



Steve Durbin joined the team as a member of the Business Division in the fall of his sophomore year looking for something to do with his spare time. He's entering his senior year in pursuit of an aerospace-engineering degree. After a year on the team, Durbin was elected Interim Project Manager. While his fellow teammates are racing in Australia this fall, Durbin's leading the team in Ann Arbor. He enjoys playing sports and watching movies in his free time. He is also a devoted Detroit sports fan.



Tanya Das is on the Micro-Electrical Division of the Solar Car Team and is serving as the Interim Engineering Director while her teammates race Infinium in Australia. A team member since the beginning of her sophomore year, she's now a junior studying electrical engineering, with particular interest in the field of solid-state electronics. Das is originally from Rochester Hills, MI, and in her free time enjoys reading, camping and just building things in general.


Rachel Kramer joined the Strategy Division of the team in the fall of 2008. A sophomore in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, she knew little about computer programming before joining the team but she quickly became interested in the optimization work of the Strategy Division. Kramer has since learned a lot about programming and the workings of the team as a whole and now serves as the interim strategy director. Outside of the team and regular classes, Kramer is a proud member of the Michigan Squirrel Feeding Club. She's originally from Ludington, Michigan.



Emily Tischler joined the Business Division in her junior year at the in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business BBA program and is currently serving the team as Interim Business Director. Tischler is from Los Angeles, California, where her interest in cars began. She's interested in pursuing marketing, public relations and advertising. She also enjoys playing basketball, writing and ar, and is conducting research in organizational psychology with Prof. Lee and Melanie Henderson. Tischler hopes to go into a business career in the fashion industry.



Brian Pak is a junior in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Joining the team his sophomore year, he spent most of his time working on sponsorship procurement for the Business Division and is now the Interim Operations Leader. Pak, a native of Denver, Colorado, loves hitting the slopes during his free time to snowboard. Some of his other interests include swimming, volleyball and tennis. In the future, Pak hopes to work in corporate finance.