Four Miss. schools involved in solar car race

Published 6:47 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Students from four Mississippi high schools are competing in the Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge.

The event requires the competitors — 17 teams from around the world — to build their own solar racers. The team that completes the most miles at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in the next four days will be the winner.

The Mississippi teams are from Newton County, Choctaw and two from Houston, Miss.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

A team from T.H. Keys Technology Center in Ocean Springs qualified for the race but was unable to complete its vehicle in time because of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

“We’re hoping that some of the members of the team are going to get to go to the race and watch some of the other teams compete,” said Center Director Jan Griffin.

Griffin said team members plan to finish their car by the end of August and enter it in next year’s race.

The Houston Vocational Center has been competing since 2000 and has won every year, team sponsor Keith Reese said.

Lance Whitworth, a student at the Houston Vocational Center, said one of the team’s cars can reach 80 mph, but normally cruises at 50 to 55 mph to conserve power.

“Driving that car is really different, a lot harder than people would think it is,” he said.

Whitworth, who wants to be an engineer, said the project has helped him learn teamwork, leadership and public speaking.

The team has worked on the project since January, but work intensified in the past two weeks.

The competition is the first for the Newton County Career and Technical Center team, sponsor Stacy Addy said.

The team’s three-wheeled vehicle operates with a six-horsepower motor powered by six solar panels, Addy said. She said the vehicle’s average speed is 20 mph, but it tops out at 45 mph.

The car was funded by local sponsors, Addy said.

“We haven’t had the great turnout that we wanted, but our school system has helped us out tremendously,” she said.

The solar car challenge will become an annual project, she said.