As the first full-time Programme Director of CUER it is my job to oversee the entire project and also set a precedent for future full-time team members. I am involved in all aspects of the project but my main responsibility is to work on the long-term development of the team while also ensuring the day-to-day success. I particularly enjoy this role as it gives the chance to scope out opportunities for the team and guide the direction for the future. I am also very proud and privileged to work alongside such driven students with the guidance of many experienced mentors.
Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) is a 60 strong student organisation that designs, build and races solar powered vehicles. We are a not-for-profit organisation that is mainly funded through corporate sponsorship and private support. Since our founding in 2007, we have been the UK’s number one for solar vehicle development.
We race in the World Solar Challenge, the world’s foremost solar endurance race, held in Australia. Our racing cars showcase cutting-edge sustainable engineering and demonstrate the incredible potential of electric vehicle technologies. By designing a car to run on solar power alone, we are driving the step changes in vehicle efficiency and new technologies for a low-carbon future.
Our team mission is to inspire as well as innovate. This leads us to undertake many outreach programs, both nationally and internationally. We have recently done outreach in Hong Kong, on the Isle of Wight and at Ardingly College as well as within Cambridgeshire. We also participate in many public events such as the Gadget Show and a High Performance event at the London Science Museum to educate and showcase the possibilities of solar energy.
Current Key Team Members
I am Deputy Director and Project Manager. I enjoy this role because it is at interface of the Technical, Sponsorship and Operations teams; I like knowing what everyone is up to and dipping in and out of the detail! On a daily basis I could be doing anything from organising freight to helping plan manufacturing. This variety keeps things interesting but increases the risk of getting sucked into too many tasks. During my time in the role I shall focus on improving my skills as a manager so I can ensure team members are best placed for us to succeed!
I'm responsible for making sure that CUER produces a professional quality car to compete in the World Solar Challenge 2015. I oversee all of the technical sub-teams, supporting and leading the sub-team leaders. I got involved in CUER over the summer, researching Solar Concentrators, but got drawn into the excitement and challenges associated with designing and building the solar car!
As Secretary and PR Manager I am responsible for keeping the team’s public image positive and professional. I enjoy this role because it allows me to discover what the entire team gets up to both at a detailed, and more general level; whether this is changes to the braking system, or securing the latest sponsorship agreement. As an architecture student, not an engineer, I aim to hold a more conceptual understanding of how the team is perceived, and how through communication channels such as social media or other visual engagements, we are able to convey the team in the best possible light. I look forward to my time in the role, and I’m excited to see how CUER will change and develop.
As Business Manager, my role is to facilitate the continued work of the Technical Team, thus enabling CUER to produce a first-class vehicle. I lead a team of individuals both to approach potential sponsors, and to strengthen relationships with those who already support us. One of the few non-engineers on the team (reading Economics), I was drawn to CUER because of the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of its members, as well as the magnitude of the task we are aiming to achieve.
As the head of the electrical team I'm in charge of designing and making all the electrical systems in the car. These include the battery pack and solar array along with the interface and telemetry circuitry and mounting systems.
I joined the team in January 2014, becoming electrical team leader in October. I love working on such an ambitious project and as I intend to work as an electrical engineer in the future, find the opportunity to work on practical electronics very valuable.
My job as head of aero is basically to design the outer shell of the car to be as streamlined as possible given the constraints set by the WSC rules and the requirements of the other areas of the team. Since our design philosophy is based on maximising aero performance it is a really important job and relies heavily on extensive CFD analysis which has to be validated through wind tunnel testing. I am also responsible for training and developing the newer members of the aero team in using CFD and meshing software. I really enjoy being part of the CUER aero team as you learn so much more than you ever could in the classroom and it is great preparation for the working world after Cambridge. CUER can be pretty stressful at times but when you get to see the fruits of your labour on a project as cool as this then it really does make it all worth it.
I am a fourth year engineer and have been involved in CUER for nearly three years now. Designing the electrics of a solar car is a great challenge, and I really enjoy the opportunities CUER provides to get my hands dirty with soldering irons, wires, and some of the most hi-tech equipment that's out there. I'm very keen to promote renewable energy and efficient forms of transport, and I see CUER as a brilliant way to showcase and develop the technologies that will make this possible.
My role involves coordinating the transformation of an aerodynamic shell provided by the aero team into a fully designed solar powered racer, taking it all the way from sketches on pieces of paper, to 3D CAD models to a physical part in the workshop ready to be bolted on to the car. I get to look at the biggest projects, like the chassis design all the way down to making sure that we have enough nuts and bolts to build the suspension! I love this role because it allows me to take on some project management/leadership responsibilities while still getting my hands dirty with some design, analysis and manufacturing. CUER appealed to me because of the massive challenge that we undertake as a team, I wouldn't want to do it if it was easy!
Summer Design Team 2014
The Summer Design Team was established as a biennial group who work over the summer to kickstart the beginning of each race cycle, by developing a concept for the next generation of our car for the new team to continue work in the following Michaelmas term.Team
2012 - 2013
In June 2012, Mark stepped down as Team Manager and was succeeded by Keno Mario-Ghae. The following week however, whilst the handover was on-going, the regulations for the 2013 World Solar Challenge were released requiring 4 wheels, better driver visibility and increasingly designed-in safety features such as driver headspace. These effectively outlawed the solar bike concept. The team however, went back to the drawing board and began exploring ways to take advantage of opportunities in the new regulations. The first ideas session produced 20 different concepts which were quickly narrowed down to about 4.
Over the summer of 2012, many team members had internships during the day in different parts of the country and convened frequently by Skype sharing ideas, sketches, calculation and simulations. Iterating day by day until narrowing down on the concept that became Resolution. Resolution has an aerodynamic tear drop shop combined with a large transparent canopy at the rear under which, an innovative solar tracking plate follows the sun as it moved across the sky, increasing the overall energy input. Resolution benefitted from much of the aerodynamic learning from the solar bike concept; the ability to operate at a radically different operating point. Resolution’s philosophy was to decouple the aerodynamic and solar performance, avoiding the compromise that is often made between the two.
Resolution’s 2013 entry was launched by Teena Gade at the London Science Museum with guests including Sir Paul Judge. A few days before Scrutineering, whilst testing at motorway speeds on a public road in Australia, the team had an accident in which Resolution over onto its side, slid off the road and down an embankment. The driver was in unhurt. Though much effort was made to fix the car, it was deemed unsafe without sufficient time to investigate fully and Keno withdrew the team from the race. Subsystems such as tracking and solar concentrators were tested independently to gain knowledge for future teams, but Resolution only drove in the starting ceremony and final parade.
2011 - 2012
Following the World Solar Challenge in 2011, Emil stepped down as Team Manager and was succeeded by Mark Nicholson who would lead the first half of what would become the team’s most audacious race cycle. Supported by the Advisory Board and inspired by high performance recumbent bikes Mark led the 2013 race cycle team towards a radically different design philosophy; small, lightweight and aerodynamically efficient design. The team worked in secret on a solar powered motorbike, codenamed Christine, of which they built and tested an early prototype electric bike with stabilisers up to 30 mph. Strategic partners and sponsors were brought on board during this cycle to help with the effort including the National Composites Centre.
2009 - 2011
Following the World Solar Challenge 2009, Anthony stepped down as Team Manager and was succeeded by Pip Walters who lead the first half of a two year development. Over the next two years, the team continued redesigning and refining Endeavour, resulting in a car with much improved aerodynamic properties and more reliable batteries dubbed Endeavour Mk 2. The team used CFD simulations to make minor tweaks to the canopy, and tested the car extensively at a local airfield, before heading out to the 2011 World Solar Challenge led by Emil Hewage. There, after one of the toughest races on record due to a combination of thunderstorms and bush fires, they finished 25th out of 37 teams.
2008 - 2009
Affinity was designed and constructed in early 2008, as a prototype vehicle to learn about solar systems and vehicle development. She was also used as a display and outreach vehicle, inspiring students and grown-ups alike across the UK. Affinity was endorsed by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to legally drive on UK roads, and became the first solar-powered vehicle to qualify. In June 2008, as part of our “End to End” event, Affinity became the first solar-powered car to drive legally on UK roads, driving over 830 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats to raise awareness of sustainable energy. During the event, we ran outreach events at schools and town centres across the UK. To date Affinity remains the only solar vehicle to have driven legally on the UK roads.
In July 2008, following the successful “End to End” tour, Martin stepped down as Team Manager and was succeeded by Anthony Law. Work began on the second generation CUER vehicle, Endeavour, led Anthony Law with Martin taking up a position on the team’s Advisory Board, a position which he still serves today. Following design work by a number of students in the Engineering Department, and with the support of the Advisory Board, the team competed in the 2009 World Solar Challenge, a 3000 km solar marathon across Australia from Darwin to Adelaide. Endeavour's 2009 entry was launched by Jenson Button at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The 2009 Team came 14th, of 26 competitors. Our highest finish to at the World Solar Challenge to date, though a battery failure severely hindered their chances of competing effectively.
2007 - 2008
The team was founded in 2007 by Martin McBrien. Whilst studying as an exchange scholar at MIT, he was inspired by their Solar Electric Vehicle Team and dreamt that one day Cambridge would be able to win the World Solar Challenge. On returning to Cambridge, he assembled and led a team of ambitious students and supporters and began developing our first vehicle, Affinity.