RA7 – Principia Solar Car Team Goes Beyond Goliath

On Sunday, February 13th at 3:00 PM, the Principia Club of Boston and the BA are co-sponsoring a presentation of the film The Secrets of Ra7, the remarkable story of the 2009 World Solar Challenge, a 1,877-mile solar car race across Australia. The film (which aired on PBS television stations last year) shows how the Principia Solar Car team achieved dramatic success while competing against the elite teams from MIT, Michigan, and Stanford in the U.S., and similarly impressive institutions from the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, and Germany. Despite not having a dedicated engineering program, and the fact that the total student population is a tiny fraction of these other schools, Principia students fully embraced the challenge and felt a mutually supportive connection with all of the competitors.

Principia’s earlier experiences in solar car competitions began in 2001 (several years before Ra 7) at the Formula Sun Grand Prix in Michigan, where the RA IV car placed 1st both in the open class and overall – bringing the team national attention with news coverage from both CNN and the National Geographic Channel. Later in 2001 they placed 7th and won the Sportsmanship Award American Solar Challenge. Ra IV also placed 4th in the 2002 Formula Sun Grand Prix in Kansas.

Following the film, Steve Shedd, director of special projects at Principia College, and faculty advisor for the Solar Car Team, will be on hand to provide behind-the-scenes perspective and answer your questions.

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