Buckeye Solar Racing: Powered by students
Ohio State is known for its student motorsports teams, with a legacy of first-place finishes and record-breaking results. Now a new team is hoping to score some firsts of its own.
Buckeye Solar Racing (BSR) — the university’s solar-powered vehicle team — is gearing up for its inaugural competition: the Formula Sun Grand Prix, starting June 27. The team will travel to Topeka, Kansas, to compete against collegiate teams from around the world, testing the limits of its vehicle in handling curves, braking and acceleration.
It’s an ambitious undertaking for a young team. Since its founding in 2021 by a small group of engineering students, BSR has accelerated into a 30-plus member organization with subcommittees focused on structural, electrical, aerodynamic, business and media tasks. Students representing a variety of majors have been working feverishly to get race-ready, and nerves and excitement are building.
“There has been a lot of hard work put in by many people over the course of two years,” says electrical team member Vasilios Konstantacos, a senior in electrical engineering. “We can’t have any major failures. It’s like the fourth quarter in a big game.”
Just like Buckeyes competing on the field, BSR students know teamwork is crucial to their success.
“Everyone here is a busy college student who takes time out of their day to devote their efforts to a solar-powered car that in many ways is at the forefront of green technology,” says Konstantacos, the team’s next engineering director. “Everyone is smart, hardworking and has a desire to work on something bigger than themselves.”
That camaraderie extends to the entire solar car community. Two summers ago, the Buckeyes met the team from Western Michigan University, which eventually donated its old vehicle to Ohio State. Their only request: retain the name “Farasi,” which means “horse” in Swahili. (So the Buckeyes are driving Farasi II.) While the car required a major overhaul, it was a huge advantage for a team with no funding and little knowledge at the time.
“The cool thing about the solar car community is that it’s so welcoming to new teams,” says Operations Director Samantha Turner, a senior in mechanical engineering. “It’s extremely competitive, and it’s hard to actually qualify for a race. But instead of this fierce, cutthroat environment, there’s a lot of knowledge sharing.”
Regardless of how it places, BSR is giving students an invaluable experience. Along with hands-on learning, team members form a community that can last through their college careers and beyond. And with their first race approaching, students are anxious to hit the road and see their dream come to fruition.
“I am most looking forward to getting to be one of the team’s drivers and finally feel what it is like to drive a solar car,” says incoming Executive Officer Court Freund, a senior in mechanical engineering. “Beyond that, I am ecstatic to continue building the team.”
article originally appeared in Ohio State Alumni Magazine by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications; photos by Jodi Miller, University Marketing and Communications