(Oct. 10th, 2011) --To cultivate an interest in engineering among San Antonio high school students and to provide UTSA students an opportunity to mentor high school students, The Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute (Texas SERI) invested $15,000 to launch the James Madison High School Solar PV Racing Team. The team built its first solar car in 2011 and plans to build two new solar vehicles by early 2012 to compete at the Eco Shell Marathon and Winston Solar Challenge.
"James Madison High School does an excellent job of encouraging students to pursue careers rooted in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through hands-on opportunities," said Les Shephard, director of Texas SERI and UTSA's Robert F. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Engineering. "Dr. Joe Dungan, a longtime chemistry teacher at Madison, has taken students to the Green Energy Roundup in Fredericksburg, Texas, to the International Fuel Conference and to Southwest Research Institute®, among other locations, to help them understand the opportunities available to them in engineering. When the Madison High Solar Car Team came to us looking for support to get a program started, it was a very easy decision. We knew the solar car initiative would provide a great learning experience."
Last year, Dr. Dungan, Madison teachers Paul Edgar and Don Henson, mentor and consultant Robert Franz and UTSA students James Benson and Javier Guerrero took a group of Madison sophomores, juniors, seniors and recent grads through the process of building a solar vehicle. They taught the students about research, design, construction and testing. With little budget, the MadSCI team purchased parts, borrowed parts and even salvaged parts from junkyards to build the car. While their classmates took summer vacations to exciting destinations, the teens endured record-breaking temperatures topping 115 degrees in an un-air conditioned building to build the school's first-ever solar vehicle. The result, dubbed Solar Ray I, was a sleek, low-riding machine powered by five photovoltaic panels. On half power, it is capable of reaching 30 miles per hour.
Junior Valerie Gamao recalled her initial reaction at the car's completion.
"I was amazed that we were able to pull it off," she recalled. "Lots of other students joined us at the beginning, but they were doubtful that we could pull it off because we were in high school and they left. Now, there's increased confidence in the team. We did this with our hands. Now they want to be a part of it."
"In striving to prepare students for success in the global community that our world has become, and to fuel their artistic and academic ambitions, motivate them in science, engineering and technology, it has become increasingly necessary to expand the curriculum beyond the standard classroom," said Dungan. "Students need to be exposed to and involved in activities that involve authenticity, collaboration, critical thinking skills, global implications, in-depth investigations, cross-curricular applications and a very high student motivation and engagement factor. This solar car initiative was the perfect beyond the classroom project because in striving to meet this challenge, students were exposed to and involved in precisely those types of activities."
He added, "I am incredibly proud of everyone that was involved in this project. The students, teachers, and mentors literally gave up their whole summer to work on the car. The sense of satisfaction and accomplishment evident in the students after finishing this solar car is the greatest reward for which the teachers and mentors could ask."
But the engineering extracurricular wasn't all fun and games.
Madison High School senior Matthew Sheridan vividly recalls a critical lesson.
"Last year, we didn't obtain our funds until later in the year, and in the following rush to finish the car, we made our frame before we knew how all the components would attach to it," Sheridan said. "This year, we will have all our final components researched and measured so that we can design the entire car in a computer-aided design program such as SolidWorks before making a single weld. This will allow our car to be stronger and lighter because all of our frame members will be in place so our components can easily attach to them, versus our pain in the first car, where we had to weld on a new, heavy bracket every time something was added to our car."
With UTSA and other sponsors, the MadSci Solar Racing Team hopes to build two additional solar cars for competition. They have their eyes on the 2012 Eco Shell Marathon, scheduled on March 29-April 1, 2012 in Houston, Texas, and the Winston Solar Challenge, which will take place in summer 2012.
And Junior Devin Keilberg welcomes the challenge.
"I didn't have a summer," he recalls. "I was there all summer. But I've done something that makes me stand out from everyone else. It makes me feel proud. I know it will pay off."
UTSA's Shephard agrees.
"We have already reaped the benefits of these interactions as two of these students are now enrolled at UTSA," said Shephard."I have no doubt the Madison students will be successful with the next generation solar vehicle. All the pieces are in place. They've learned some important lessons from their first project that they plan to integrate into the next car. And they have excellent advisors. We are thrilled to support them in their endeavors."
The MadSci Solar Car Team is also sponsored by Toyota Motor Corp, Rivercity Industries, the Motorcycle Shop and AAA Solar Texas.
MadSCI Team, Solar Ray I:
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The UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy's Curtis Vaughan Observatory will offer free stargazing for the public beginning on top of the 4th floor of the Flawn Science Building. Experienced astronomers will be on hand to show a variety of astronomical objects and answer any questions. This event is free and open to the public, so feel free to invite friends and family.
Curtis Vaughan Observatory
This year's keynote speaker is Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisper. The event will feature breakout sessions and a presentation by the Creative Writers from North East School of the Arts. The event is free and open to all teachers from Pre-K through university level. Attendees can earn a certificate for 3 hours of Professional Development Credit.
Riklin Auditorium (FS1.406), Downtown Campus
The UTSA community is invited to attend the 3rd annual Rowdy Gras celebration! This year Rowdy Gras includes a daytime event from 11 a.m. -1 p.m. with a free food tasting and music on the UC Paseo. The main event takes place from 6 - 9 p.m. in the UC Lawn. The event includes free food, live jazz music, activities and giveaways.
University Center Paseo & Lawn, UTSA Main Campus
The UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning’s 2015-16 Speaker Series continues with Dana Cuff, Ph.D., a professor of architecture and urbanism at the University of California, Los Angeles. In her talk, Cuff will discuss new forms of “studio” and new types of practices. Free and open to the public.
Aula Canaria Lecture Hall (BV 1.328), UTSA Downtown Campus
The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures invites Texas and Texans to the Asian Festival. What began as a traditional family reunion for the Chinese New Year has expanded to include other Asian communities and participants, showcasing their unique culture and traditions.
The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures
Join the UTSA Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching in celebrating interdisciplinary inquiry at the 2016 Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium. The colloquium will include a panel of faculty and recent doctoral graduate and a showcase of the best IDS undergraduate inquiry projects of the year 2015. The event is free and open to the public.
Business Building (BB 2.06.04), UTSA Main Campus
The UTSA College of Public Policy presents the Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Dr. Iris Carlton-LaNey, Professor of the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Dr. Iris Carlton LaNey will speak to the UTSA community about the role and impact of African-Americans in the social work profession.
Buena Vista Theater (BV 1.326), Downtown Campus
Please join us for a presentation and book signing by Luis Carlos Montalván (Fmr. Capt., USA), author of the New York Times Bestseller Until Tuesday and the international award-winning childrens book Tuesday Tucks Me In. His books will be available for purchase at the UTSA Bookstore. This event is free and open to the public.
Southwest Room (DB 1.124), Downtown Campus
The 12th Annual Black Heritage Gala is a formal event which includes a student performance, keynote remarks by Michael Brown, an award presentation, dinner and dancing. Tickets are $10 for UTSA students and $15 for all other guests. Tickets are on sale now at Roadrunner Express. Contact (210) 458-4770 for more information.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom, Main Campus
The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures will host a free workshop focusing on teaching Latin American culture and geography for students seeking their teacher certification. The workshop includes free resources for teaching Latin American subject matter as well as presentations on language, identity, music, geography, and political and developmental history, and a special educators’ tour of the museum’s Los Tejanos exhibit. Free with registration.
The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC 3.01.02)
Faithful Alabi holds the Raw Teen III American deadlift record
2015 was a significant year for UTSA. As the university moved forward on the road to Tier One research, designations and recruitment of high caliber faculty and students, it also completed its first ever capital campaign. Read about UTSA's accomplishments in the 2015 Year in Review as we look forward to what the next year will bring.
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