For the second consecutive year, the Middle Tennessee State University solar boat team finished fourth overall in the 29th annual Solar Splash, the world championship of collegiate solar boating.
MTSU finished behind champion Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, 2022 winner Cedarville (Ohio) University and third-place University of Southern Indiana.
The MTSU team earned the Outstanding Solar System Design Award and third-place honors for the prerace video produced by Lily Hardin, the team co-captain.
Solar Splash is a five-day competition held at Champions Park Lake at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ohio. In addition to qualifying, events included sprint, endurance, slalom, technical reports and more. MTSU students in the Engineering Technology Experimental Vehicles Program have been competing for about 20 years.
Other team members included rising junior and solar boat captain Daniel Wetter (mechatronics) of Murfreesboro, Tennessee; grad student Ben Garretson (engineering management) of Gallatin, Tennessee, who was charge of the boat’s telemetry/data collection; rising senior Jackson Clemons (mechatronics) of Murfreesboro; rising sophomore Cody Olsen (mechatronics) of Murfreesboro; freshman Zachary DiNovo (mechatronics) of Murfreesboro; rising sophomore Kaylin Garton (mechanical engineering technology) of Murfreesboro; and freshman John Guffey (mechatronics) of Gallatin, Tennessee.
Saeed Foroudastan, Experimental Vehicles Program director, said team members were “dedicated, confident and knowledgeable. They never quit. They participated in the race and did well.”
All this after the boat was damaged during the six-plus-hour drive by U-Haul to Springfield. “As a team, they got together and spent a lot of hours and fixed everything themselves,” he added.
“We are extremely proud of our solar boat team and their performance this year,” said Greg Van Patten, College of Basic and Applied Sciences dean. “These students are very bright and motivated. I heard they overcame a major obstacle and had to make repairs to the boat, and to their credit, the repairs were successful. Their success against top teams from around the country and the world brings recognition to the Engineering Technology Department and to the university.”
Hardin, 23, Experimental Vehicles Program president, said team members “worked until 8 or 9 every night. It was stressful, but we worked as a team. I was happy with how we placed.” She drove the endurance portion while Wetter drove the slalom and sprint divisions.
Rick Taylor, a laboratory director, also traveled with the team and served as an advisor.
Smyrna, Tennessee-based Nissan North America gave the program $5,000 toward expenses for the solar boat and Baja all-terrain sporting vehicle competitions. Sponsors also included Nashville-based Lane Motorsports and the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
For more information, email Foroudastan at Saeed.Foroudastan@mtsu.edu.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)