Hurtling ahead to solar success

The Flinders Automotive Solar Team (FAST) is racing full-sun-ahead to the starting line of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, and holding an event in July to turbo-charge their fundraising efforts.

Established in Flinders in 2015, FAST is focused on developing a car for the iconic 3000km solar vehicle race that attracts tertiary and high-school competitor teams in a high-tech journey from Darwin to Adelaide.

While the Flinders University team’s inaugural race in 2017 did not go to plan, hopes are high for the competition this October, with many lessons learnt – combined with a solid dash of Flinders’ tenacity and perseverance.

A gaming night has been planned for 12 July, at Brainhackr on Prospect Road, to support the cost of modifying the vehicle and making it amazing. Tickets are $20 each with exciting silent auctions contributing to the fundraising effort.

Regardless of success in the race, the event enables students to get to know people from around the globe and provides an exceptional experience in real-world communication and team work together with honing engineering skills for many team members.

For the 2019 competition, FAST’s engineering project team has dedicated efforts to increasing the capacity of the car’s battery, and changing from a dual hub motors to a single inboard motor. With comfortable seating, a good-sized windscreen, conventional doors and the ability to charge at a standard AC charging station, the team is confident their vehicle will be among the most practical in this year’s Cruiser class of the race.

Project Lead for Engineering Cameron Pike rendering the new body work for Flinders University’s 2019 competition car

FAST is also working with the College of Science and Engineering on expanding placement opportunities for students as part of their engineering training.

“Past students who have worked with the team say it has been so valuable in securing later employment,” says Melanie Jane Ward, a first-year Bachelor of Science (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry) student and Project Lead of Business Operations for the FAST team.

“At any point in their degree a student can take point in FAST, however, the likelihood of securing a placement that would contribute towards their engineering degree increases if students start as volunteers.”

She says students enjoy a range of activities to develop skills that need not be necessarily related to their area of academic study, including participating in team building activities and promoting the car at University events and school visits.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to develop the crucial communication skills sought out by employers and allow students to take pride in their project,” Ms Ward says.

While the College of Science and Engineering has been generous in funding a portion of the project, additional funds are required to cover the cost of materials.

The team’s progress can be followed on its Facebook page. Tickets for the July fundraising event can be purchased by emailing the team at or sending a direct message over social media for bank deposit details.

The Flinders University team with the FAST vehicle in 2017

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