Local high school students building solar powered car - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Local high school students building solar powered car

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Just what is the Bullard High School Engineering class up to? They got their hands on a lot of expensive carbon fiber sheets and tubing. Now they're putting together an extremely light-weight, and expensive, but functional... thing.

We just had to go to Bullard to show us this thing.

It's certainly symmetrical, but it looks like a series of tubes held together with tape. It can't be very sturdy. What the heck are these crazy kids getting high school credit for?

"We're building a solar car from the ground up using composite materials. We're actually the only ones in the United States using this patent. It was a technology that was developed in Poland, and we figured it was perfect for our car," said Bullard High School senior Austin Gwartney.

Cullen Hippler and Austin Gwartney explained the car will be moved to Dallas this July, be judged, and then driven to California without ever stopping for gas over an eight day period. It's called the Winston Solar Car Challenge. Teams are judged based on the miles they put on the car, not the speed.

"We're looking at about 25 teams entered from across the country, and maybe even a few international teams as well," Cullen stated.

It's only open to high school students, and there are a whole bunch of rules. It's not uncommon to be disqualified before the race even begins.

"We've re-checked and checked to make sure we've got all out T;s crossed and I's dotted. That way we will be able to assure we will be able to compete this year," Cullen stressed.

Other teams have used carbon fiber, but not tubing, because you can't weld it. Their solution? The Polish patented technique using carbon fiber to stitch it together. It's not cheap.

"These pipes are $30 a foot, just for the piping. Then each joint that you see has about another 30-plus dollars just in wrapping it," Austin revealed.

And the solar panels?

"Most teams use prefabricated solar panels," Cullen said.

But they are building their own. I suggested if they run out of sunlight, they can use flashlights.

"Is that against the rules?" I asked.

"Yes," The engineering teacher laughed.

Good thing they knew that. I almost got them disqualified.

The students have raise quite a bit of money for the project, but they need quite a bit more, and a trailer to haul the car around.

If you want to help call Bullard High School, or visit their website.

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