Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Solar Car Design Team placed eighth in the Formula Sun Grand Prix. The race challenges collegiate teams to design and build solar-powered vehicles.

Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Solar Car Design Team placed eighth in the Formula Sun Grand Prix. The race challenges collegiate teams to design and build solar-powered vehicles.



The competition, held July 4-8, took place at the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 track in Austin, Texas. 

Before racing began, teams had to pass “scrutineering” to ensure that all safety measures were in place. After technical and safety inspections, teams then moved on to the track for three days of racing. Teams raced to complete as many laps as possible on the track in an 8-hour timeframe. None of the laps involved head-to-head racing. Eighteen teams competed at the event, including teams from Canada and Puerto Rico. 

Missouri S&T’s team started strong on the track on the first day, completing 14 laps and moving to third on the leaderboard before the car’s motor began to have technical issues. Regenerative braking caused the motor to overheat, which tripped the motor’s controller and damaged the car’s battery box. The heat also disrupted the motor’s timing.

Team members repaired the damage and on the second day the car completed 20 laps. On the third day, the car completed 54 laps. The team was assessed penalties for using third-wheel braking, but still finished with 69 total laps, which earned the team eighth place. 

Missouri S&T’s car is an all-carbon-fiber composite vehicle with solar panels on the top. The entire car, including its electrical components, was designed and constructed by undergraduate students at Missouri S&T.

“This race sets us up for an even more successful season next year, when the team returns to the cross-country American Solar Challenge race,” says team president Conner Kostelac, a senior in engineering management from Platte City, Missouri. “The course has yet to be decided, but we are already preparing for longer-distance racing.”

The Solar Car Design Team is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, which makes it one of the oldest design teams at Missouri S&T. To learn more about the team, visit solarcar.mst.edu.