LAKEWOOD, NJ--A team of undergraduate students from the University of Minnesota’s engineering department, along with a little help from Neutrik USA ,have been gearing up for the North American Solar Challenge, a competition to design, build, and operate solar-powered cars in a 2,400 mile drive from Dallas, Texas to Calgary, Alberta. Through several generous donations, including assorted connector and receptacle products from Neutrik, the team was able to successfully create the University’s eighth solar car— the Centaurus.
“We used Neutrik-brand connectors as the backbone of our connection solution for Centaurus,” says Samuel Lenius, project manager, University of Minnesota’s Solar Vehicle Project. “Neutrik was the best available solution for our design, as the products provided the most reliable performance, which is a major factor in an event of this caliber and distance.”
Through Neutrik’s contribution, nearly all of the electrical components on the car were designed and manufactured in-house by the students. The electrical team working on Centaurus followed a methodology that ensured that every electrical component in the vehicle had, at a minimum, two complete backups - this extended down to the connectors and wiring.
Neutrik donated numerous wire-side connector products including several male and female XX-Series XLR’s. In terms of chassis-side connectors, Neutrik also provided a number of male and female A-Series XLR receptacle as well as male and female DL-Series XLR receptacles. The company also donated several of its speakON Lockable Loudspeakers connectors and receptacles to the project.
“This project is a great opportunity to educate students about the intricate wiring and connection systems involved in designing and building a vehicle of this nature,” says Jim Cowan, president of Neutrik USA. “Centaurus also recognizes the growing trend towards solar-powered automobiles and a greener lifestyle in general. We applaud this group’s efforts and are glad that we can provide assistance in any way possible.”
Centarus was put to the test in the cross-country time/distance rally event, which ran from July 13, 2008 through July 22, 2008. Centarus finished fifth overall of the 16 teams that competed. The team was honored with several awards for there unique design and sportsmanship, including the "Best Workmanship" award for the clean manufacturing of the car, the "Excellence in Mechanical Design" award for the students’ work on the suspension and chassis of the car, and last but not least, Electrical Team Leader, Adam Shea, received the individual “Espirit de Corps” award for all of the help he gave to all of the teams to get their electrical systems up and running.
The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project (UMNSVP) is an organization of undergraduate engineering students who undertake the project of researching, designing, and constructing a solar vehicle every two years. The project endeavors to teach the aspects of engineering that are beyond what can be presented in a curriculum.