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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture EECS News @WSU 2014

Solar Car: Thanks SEL!

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) solar car

Talk about recycling and reusing.

An electric car that became a Washington State University student project in solar power for Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) is finding new life with its donation to WSU for use in a renewable energy course.

“We’re grateful to SEL for this generous donation,” said Behrooz Shirazi, Huie-Rogers chair and director of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “It’s wonderful to see how our current and future students will benefit not only from SEL’s generosity but also from the hard work of our previous students.”

WSU students looking at solar carSponsored by SEL, a group of students in 2009 worked on the car as part of their senior design project. The students upgraded the standard Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) e4 electric car provided by SEL, adding solar panels and a power monitoring system.

The aim was to meet the company’s needs for an electric city vehicle, increasing the speed, range and reliability of the car for city driving. The team also investigated putting excess power generated by an integrated solar panel into the power grid.

With SEL’s donation, the car will be used in WSU’s renewable energy course. The course teaches students about renewable energy sources – including wind, solar and fuel cells – as well as emerging technologies.

The coursework, geared for senior-level majors in engineering, electrical engineering and the sciences, ranges from the design and construction of wind turbines, solar photovoltaic arrays, biomass generation and hydrogen fuel cells, to the public policy and ecological impact of conventional and alternative sources of energy.

“Addressing our need for energy is our nation’s biggest challenge, and renewable energy is imperative,” said Shirazi. “This gift allows our students to get a firm understanding of the technologies that will be the focus of their 21st century workplace.”