Engineers Host Model Solar Car Competition
By Anne Berman '15
Students interested in learning
the technicalities behind engineering sustainability are
in luck. The Smith branch of Engineers for a Sustainable
World (ESW) is kicking off a model solar car-building competition
today, Friday, March 29.
who express interest by emailing before
the end of the day will be put into teams. The club will
pay up to $100 for materials, and will give teams some guidelines
for design. The cars will be raced on Chapin lawn on April
25, in celebration of Earth Week.
ESW president Brittany Bennett ’15 says the project aims to teach students the
benefits of being asked to think about sustainability while building something.
As they design their cars, students will need to think about choosing the right
solar panel for the right cost, reducing mass so their car travels quickly, and
making the car as aerodynamic as possible.
The competition follows a series
of successful projects the club has completed this year,
including the design of an irrigation system for an apple
orchard, commemorating President Carol T. Christ, at MacLeish
Field Station. This semester, Bennett has been hosting bimonthly “Think
Tank” meetings to discuss current environmental issues, including Keystone Pipeline
XL and the political climate on environmental justice.
“This club is all about giving students real-world problems and deadlines to
complete projects aimed at tackling these problems on a local scale, while also
bringing communities together,” explains Bennett. She is the key force behind
the club’s active success; including the Sustainable Leadership award the club
received last spring for building a “cargo cycle,” a bike that allows Dining
Services to transport catered goods across campus without the need of a gas-fueled
Bennett says her experience
leading ESW has been the most time-consuming, fulfilling
and life-changing aspect of her Smith experience so far. “The club
is an intersection of my passions in life: science, math, and environmental justice.
I’ve gained leadership experience, and I’ve relished the opportunity to enact
real-life change; to extend beyond the problem sets I have to do for my classes
and work on projects that help people and are good for the environment.
“My academics make being an engineer and enacting change possible,” Bennett adds. “But
for me, academic learning can only be part of the pedagogy.”