Rocklin, Calif. – The Sierra College Solar Energy program Team competed last Saturday May 14th in the Northern California SMUD Solar Regatta at the Rancho Seco Recreational Area in Herald, CA, and came back to the Rocklin Campus as a winning team for the 3rd straight year.
There was very stiff competition with 19 other college teams; many of them bringing their “A Game” this year! Considering this, as well as cloudy and windy conditions that day, Sierra College ranked well, placing within the top 3 in all 3 races (sprint, slalom and endurance). But Sierra students really shined in their amazing team spirit – Winning the Spirit Cup/ Great work team!
“I am so proud of our students this year. They are an amazing team,” mentions Steve Geiger, department chair of the Construction & Energy Technology program at Sierra College. “They came together as a big class of 23 and all worked so hard to prepare for the competition. I was especially impressed with their comradery with one another, as well as many of the other teams at the race. I can still hear them cheering “Killer Watt” (their boat name: HH Killer Watt II). And not only did this incredible team cheer for their crew, but for all the other teams in the competition too – making sure the Sierra college spirit was felt by everyone at the race. What a wonderful day!”
The students worked together in choosing to keep but modifying and updating last year’s winning boat design. This showed their dedication to sustainability! They perfected the Killer Watt II’s electrical system to provide maximum thrust to the motor using Ohm’s Law calculations, and then tested their theories under load in 2 race time trials at Folsom Lake. Results were impressive as they were able to beat last year’s winning time by more than 15 seconds in ideal solar and wind conditions. It however was not enough to come out on top of the other teams this year, some of them with boats that were half the weight of the Killer Watt II. The team went above and beyond in fundraising and creating an amazing video of their efforts as well as a very detailed presentation for the judges this year. The boat is currently on display in the H Building (H-2), on the Rocklin Campus.
The Sierra College team would like to give a big thank you to their sponsors: Briar Patch at $1,000-Gold Sponsor, Knights Paint at $500-Silver Sponsor, SunWorks at $500-Silver Sponsor, and Bronze Sponsors of home Depot, Best Buy, Foster & Son Trucking, Inc., Moule Paint & Glass, Inc., House of Paint & Copy LLC, Mike Bratton-State Farm Insurance, SPD Markets, Grocery Outlet, Hometown Hydroponics, Inc., Hansen Bros. Enterprises, and B&C True Value.
The Energy and Technology Center of SMUD opened the Solar Regatta event to all middle, high school and college students from Fresno to the Oregon border to either retrofit or build from scratch, a solar powered boat and then participate in a fun-filled day of competitions in speed, distance, maneuverability and more. This academic competition provided a chance for students to learn about renewable energy using solar while celebrating the aquatic history of California. This is the third year the competition was open to college teams. The Sierra College Solar Energy team won the Regatta Cup last year, making this the third year that Sierra has won at the event.
So, what do students learn by building a solar boat?
- Physics and practical electricity: wiring, motors, force, motion and fluid dynamics
- Renewable energy: researching applicability, resources and sustainability
- Solar: load management, battery sizing
- Engineering: design, materials, schematics and media, as well as teamwork
For more information about the highly acclaimed Sierra College Solar Energy program, contact Steve Geiger, Construction & Energy Dept., 916-660-7843