Ardingly College became the first school ever to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the European Solar Challenge in Zolder. Out of 19 starters they finished an impressive tenth.
The European Solar Car Challenge is a hugely prestigious event with teams from international universities and companies taking part. Ardingly’s new solar car has been built and designed with the aid of twenty-three major companies and three universities. The project may well be the biggest engineering project ever tackled by a school and having taken part in the race in Belgium last month, the team are looking forward to the Bridgestone 3000km World Solar Challenge (BWSC) in Australia next year.
Since the Solar Car project began in 2013, nearly 250 pupils have been involved. Currently, there are 40 children working on the newest version of the car, known affectionately by the team as the ‘Basking Beastie’. We are also proud to say that 40% of the team are girls reflecting our push to get more girls involved in STEM subjects at the College.
The students have the privilege of working with undergraduates and companies through whom they are able to learn valuable life skills in electrical and mechanical engineering, logistics, business management and marketing, all whilst still at school. The technical advances made mean that the Solar Car showcased the latest technologies in Zolder, with full systems integration and a proprietary battery system. The build has also involved rapid body prototyping techniques.
The car is primarily designed to be able to complete the 3000km BWSC trek under solar power alone, which if completed will be a first for any UK team, university or company. We have also gained the support of many local figures and during a recent visit to Ardingly College, Jeremy Quin MP said:
“This is a hugely impressive project in which students have worked with McLaren and other leading companies and used their own innovative designs to create a solar powered car capable of 70mph. They will be competing against the best in the world both in the European Solar Challenge at Zolder and then on their solar-powered trek right across Australia.”
Headmaster Ben Figgis said:
“This is an amazingly ambitious engineering project that involves a range of skills and training, which our girls and boys are undertaking with enthusiasm and dedication. It is thrilling to witness and testament to the real academic distinction of Ardingly College.”