Our second day at the Science Museum saw a significantly less hectic start to the day. After quickly setting up our exhibit and facing another hoard of photographs with Endeavour (no, we can’t ‘pose like Charlie’s Angels’!) we were set to face another busy day sharing our project with hundreds more excited museum visitors.
Our first visitors were a group of primary school children who were incredibly bright and enthusiastic and came up with some great questions to test our knowledge of the car. They also enjoyed having a look at all of the samples we’ve brought with us this weekend; examining a few examples of the materials we’re using on the car and also having a look at some of the tyres we considered when designing it.…
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Never have I felt more solidarity with the cast of Jurassic Park than I did yesterday evening. After a two-hour session packing the Land Cruiser and collecting Endeavour, Technical Director Yang and I arrived at Lord’s Bridge Farm. It was dark. It was pouring with rain. There was mud everywhere. Through this all, I squelched, attempting to unlock stiff gates and drag them open without falling into muddy puddles or tripping over the rusty remains of long-dead radio telescopes or being eaten by a tyrannosaur. All this for a sample of carbon fibre – and we were off to the London Science Museum. Two and a half hours behind schedule.
All in all, not the best start to what should be a fantastic weekend. CUER has been invited to the Science Museum to participate in a three-day festival entitled High Performance – a celebration and a promotion of women in science, engineering and technology. Today is International Women’s Day, an appropriate date to launch the festival, and this is a great way to highlight the achievements and potential of women in male-dominated fields.
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This week the Business Team are filming the video for our upcoming Design Launch on Sat 24th November, where some of the team, our sponsors and partners will witness first-hand the launch of the final design of our as-yet-unnamed new solar car.
We are also producing a separate film with help from our Technical team for CUER’s launch on crowd-source funding scheme Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com) sometime in early November. We are hoping to raise over £10,000 to help us buy the components we need to win the World Solar Challenge.
But even professional camera-work was laid aside when we decided – as any normal solar racing team would, and should – to have a stroll with Endeavour through Cambridge on a mild Saturday afternoon. With some excellent coordination, a few high-visibility jackets and a new driver in Helena, our co-head of Sponsorship, we captured some beautiful rolling shots from inside Endeavour, something which we’ve been wanting to do since last year! We met with countless enthusiastic (and many bemused) onlookers from all around Cambridge, but one in particular left us humbled: one Professor Stephen Hawking.
The six-strong expeditionary team thought it most instructive just to stand beside …
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As you probably know, efficiency is improved through smart division of labour, and it was this principle that we employed on our last day on the Isle of Wight.
Whilst Peter Mildon and Ondrej Komora were left at the house to do final bits of tidying and bail out Peter’s boat, which by this time had sunk at least three times, most of the team (Ryan Weedon, Oliver Armitage, Tom Whitehead and David Ooi) headed to St James’ Square, Newport, to set up, together with Eco Island, for a 10.00 – 14.00 showcase of our glorious vehicles – Endeavour, an electric ice cream van and a small electric three-seater, – and a chance to meet and share our knowledge with the general public.
At the same time, Keno Mario-Ghae and Anastasia Bykova set off to ‘try it on,’ for lack of a better phrase, with Isle of Wight Radio, having been unsuccessful in infiltrating their office just the day before. In an unforeseen series of circumstances, and after the clarity of early morning thought turned us spontaneously into a ‘meals on wheels’-type arrangement for the convenience of the lovely presenter Lucy Morgan, we were live on air and then interviewed …
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Posted in 2011 Car, Outreach
Tagged anastasia bykova, David Ooi, Endeavour, Isle of Wight, keno mario-ghae, Oliver Armitage, Ondrej Komora, outreach, peter mildon, Ryan Weedon, St James' Square, Tom Whitehead
It was on the early Friday morning (28th September) that three of us, Keno Mario-Ghae, Anastasia Bykova, and Peter Mildon, set off to do a presentation at an assembly in Ryde School, whilst the rest of the team took a taxi to Medina Sixth Form to get ready for yet another day of serious outreach.
Whilst driving, we cut down our rather ambitious Power Point document, which we made for a talk earlier in the week (see Activities Day 2, Green Tank), having been kindly yet firmly reminded by Keith Bridgeman, Head of Science at Ryde School, that the presentation was not to last for longer than ten minutes, which under no circumstances meant fifteen minutes. And it was a success! Not only did the 500+ students enjoy the presentation, but one lucky young man, Kiran Beckett, received one of our Raspberry Pi’s, kindly donated by Jack Lang of Raspberry Pi. It was only afterwards that we found out that this precocious 12 year old has been on the waiting list to get a Raspberry Pi for quite some time!
Straight after the assembly, we were able to go down to Endeavour, strategically positioned in front of Westmont and …
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Posted in 2011 Car, Events, News, Outreach
Tagged anastasia bykova, assembly, Dr Nicholas England, Endeavour, jack lang, keno mario-ghae, outreach, peter mildon, raspberry pi, Ryde school
Day 2 at the Sixth Form Campus on the Isle of Wight began with the fervent hope that the momentum and experience we carried from Day 1 could rub on our Year 9, 10 and 11 students. Turnout was event greater than before, with about 45 students turning up even earlier than expected, some of them visibly buoyed by what they had heard from their friends the years below them.
A slightly re-worked introductory presentation worked wonders as the students launched into the spaghetti tower challenge, creating some of the more imaginative of structures while deftly attempting to jig our newly-written rules (as all students should) to do some extraordinary work. A near-record was set in the 70cm region using just spaghetti and masking tape for joints, with (as before) no opportunity to spike their marshmallows or fix their towers to the table.
The solar car kit building test was greatly aided by the near-miraculous change in weather on the island, which while grey and miserable throughout the remainder of the day showed the sun in its full glory in the precise 20 minutes we needed it to during the morning. They were whizzing across the gravel race-track set up …
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The last five years has managed to push upon many of us the realisation that environmentally and economically sustainable methods of travel – and the infrastructure that goes with it – are vital for sustaining a 21st century economy. While this global economy inevitably relies on the requirements for economic growth, consumption and infinite connectivity, travel remains paradoxically pushed to the peripheries in terms of its long-term development as a sustainable public resource. This has meant that any showcase of the potential for more marketable sustainable vehicles and their underlying technologies has become increasingly important, both for the manufacturers and the general public. Events like this year’s EcoRally, set just off London’s Pall Mall on August 18th, had been set up to provide businesses and those who provide their power a means to show the public that something is being done to act upon this realisation. This is why CUER had to take part.
Our old car Endeavour (pictured below), a workhorse of the CUER team for the last three years, has been bruised and battered by its visits across the world to people who believe that even vehicles as unconventional as ours can provide the inspiration and technology …
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On Saturday CUER held one of its largest events to date, a full afternoon of presentations, mingling and even a little bit of road-testing at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.
As the home of many Top Gear tests, Millbrook seemed like the perfect place to invite a selection of some of our most dedicated sponsors to get an update on how the team did in the late World Solar Challenge last year, as well as look ahead to our strategy for the next race in 2013.
Being a test centre for military vehicles and new concept cars for manufacturers like Jaguar and Lotus, security turned out to be tight – very tight. All 450 acres or so of the complex is strictly prohibited for photographers without a specially-appointed photo minder provided by Millbrook themselves, which pretty much puts having to sign a form saying ‘we won’t take any pictures from our mobiles – promise!’ into perspective.
Anti-reconnaissance aside, we arrived at their ultra-modern Concept Centre and found ourselves immediately swept up by Millbrook’s wonderful hospitality team. This gave us a few precious moments to mingle with some of the sponsors who had chosen to arrive even before our start time, …
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The 2011 World Solar Challenge officially began on Sunday 16th October 2011. Unofficially, it began much earlier than that. It’s difficult to pinpoint when, and for each team it is different. The day the car is shipped away; the day it arrives; the day testing begins; the day the build begins; the day the design is finalised; the day the entry fee is paid; the day the decision is made to participate at all.
For us, I suppose, the race began the day it sank in that we would be able to get to Australia. For a while it was uncertain, and that uncertainty lost us a few good teammates. But once we realised we were going to make it – that’s when it started for us.
Officially, however, it started on Sunday 16th October 2011 and ended a week later, and that’s all most people see. That’s where the focus is, and the detail around the edges is lost. But detail is important. Look past the media reports, flashy videos and posed photos – you will see another world. In this world, details matter. Tiny details, like what currency your shipping company wants to be paid in, …
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This is not so much a race report as a summary of the entire year’s efforts, challenges, disappointments and successes. The culmination of all this activity was Australia’s WSC 2011, so in non-chronological fashion I’ll start there.
The most frustrating thing for a group of enthusiastic engineers is to have their efforts and aspirations thwarted by bureaucracy. But that’s exactly what happened when our shipping company refused to give us our container or even accept any form of payment. We spent an unproductive and relaxing two weeks in Darwin without a car to work on. However, what we achieved in the following fortnight after we finally got our hands on the car cannot be overstated. The car arrived in a “working” condition (we’d done some driving back in the UK at Bourn Airfield) but getting the vehicle race-ready took a huge amount of proverbial elbow grease and midnight oil.
We successfully fitted new lights and LED drivers, tested new driver controls and telemetry, performed solar battery charging tests and re-wired a few things that we’d never got around to in the UK, including the rear-view camera. The mechanical guys chipped in with a new set of wheels, worked out how …
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