March 4, 2005

McMaster students launch campaign to send solar car team to first North American Solar Challenge

McMaster Image
Solar car team member Karleen Dudeck (third-year engineering physics), with teammates, pictured in the back row, from left, Gabriel Grant (first-year engineering); Heather Whalley (third-year kinesiology); Nick Maroulos (second-year humanities); Jeff Lemon (first-year engineering); Hans Stief (first-year engineering); Avery Yuen (fifth-year engineering physics and management); John Brash (professor of chemical engineering); and Gaurav Bahl (fourth-year electrical engineering). Photo credit: Chantall Van Raay.

Hamilton, ON - Students at McMaster University have launched a $75,000 fundraising campaign to send the school’s solar car team to compete in their first ever North American Solar Challenge this July 17 to 27.

This year’s race is a special edition of the biannual American Solar Car Challenge that will see competitors race on a highway route that starts in Austin, Texas, crosses the Canadian border into Manitoba and finishes in Calgary, Alberta. Cars will reach speeds of over 100 km/h while using the equivalent electrical output of a toaster.

“We want to show that McMaster University and the Hamilton region can compete with the best in North America,” said Avery Yuen, the manager of the McMaster Solar Car Project. “The event generates international coverage, providing a great opportunity to showcase our abilities and to represent our school and our city. We’re asking our fellow students and everyone in the community to help support the team.”

This year’s “Adopt-A-Cell” campaign allows supporters to sponsor one of the car’s 480 solar cells for $20 each. Charity receipts are available. Several other fundraising initiatives are being planned on campus and throughout the community. The solar car team is also looking for corporate sponsors. Solar cell sponsorships can be purchased online at or by calling 905-525-9140 ext. 27388.

“We’re a bit of an underdog in that some of the teams have budgets that run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Scott Cameron, system specialist. “The more support we have the better quality car we can build and the better our chances of winning.”

Comtek Advance Structures located in Burlington is one of the team’s major sponsors and provides advanced composite materials for the car’s construction. Fiber Laminations, located in east Hamilton, is involved in the fabrication of moulds used in the manufacturing process. The Faculty of Engineering at McMaster University is also a sponsor of the team.

The team from McMaster, which is made up of students from almost all Faculties on campus, including engineering, commerce, science, social science, and humanities, is designing a new car for this year’s competition. Phoenix, this year’s car, will feature a redesigned suspension, an aluminum space-frame, and redesigned steering and braking systems. Plans are being made to unveil the new car in early summer.

The solar car team will also be appearing on campus throughout the next few months. Information about upcoming team events can also be found on the website and inquiries about other sponsorship opportunities can be made by calling the phone number above or e-mailing

McMaster University, named Canada’s Research University of the Year by Research InfoSource, has world-renowned faculty and state-of-the-art research facilities. McMaster's culture of innovation fosters a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University has a student population of more than 20,000 and more than 112,000 alumni in 128 countries.