PULLMAN, Wash. — A group of students from Washington State University’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering received two awards in June at Solar Splash, an intercollegiate competition in solar/electric boating held in New York.
The WSU team participated for the first time in the competition and brought home awards for best hull design and highest rookie-team score.
Students attending the event on behalf of the 13-student group included Martin Leland; Randall Ferguson; Joshua Lodge, also treasurer; Paul Booker, vice president; and Meghann Green, president. Luke Walden was secretary for the organization. Student groups from ME 414 (machine design) and ME 406 (experimental design) also tested various boat components needed to compete in the race.
Solar Splash has been an annual event since 1993. In the contest, students design a one-passenger, solar-powered boat that must first pass a maneuverability and safety test before it can be used in races, including a 300-meter sprint and an endurance race in which racers have two hours to complete as many laps as possible.
The contest requires diverse engineering skills, including hydrodynamic analysis to optimize the boat hull’s performance in the water, mechanical engineering to construct the propulsion system, electrical engineering to incorporate solar power and materials engineering to fabricate the boat hull.
“Building a boat takes a lot more work than anyone of us would have anticipated,’’ said Green.
The students began designing the award-winning boat hull in August 2002 with software donated by AutoShip Systems Corporation of Vancouver, British Columbia. Janicki Industries of Sedro Wooley manufactured a boat hull mold free of charge for the group in January 2003. The WSU team began constructing the fiberglass boat hull after receiving core material supplies and personal instruction from Gary Crome, a composite expert of the Baltek Corporation, during a training demonstration on campus at WSU. Edmund Schweitzer, of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, helped troubleshoot the solar boat’s electrical system and coordinated a donation from SEL to finance last-minute equipment purchases. Fiberlay also donated fiberglass supplies.
Martin Leland, 1998 graduate of Kittitas High School, B.S. in mechanical engineering from WSU in spring 2003, son of Patricia Howard of Ellensburg and Glenn Leland of Mattawa.
Paul Booker, 1998 graduate of Othello High School, B.S. in mechanical engineering from WSU in spring 2003, son of Sandra and Mark Booker of Othello.
Luke S. Walden, 2002 graduate of Republic High School, sophomore studying mechanical engineering, son of Sarah and John Walden of Republic.
Joshua H. Lodge, senior studying mechanical engineering.
Meghann Green, 1998 graduate of Gonzaga Preparatory High School, B.S. in mechanical engineering from WSU in spring 2003, daughter of Jann and Harry Green of Spokane.
Randall J. Ferguson, 1999 graduate of Mountainview High School, senior studying mechanical engineering, son of Ardis and Bob Ferguson of Vancouver.