MONTREAL, July 31, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - On Thursday, August 7, at 10
a.m., media representatives and the Folie Technique science camp's 200 young participants are invited to meet the team behind the Esteban solar vehicle, fourth-place finisher in the celebrated American Solar Challenge race,
which took place July 21 to 28 in the United States.
Just back from the U.S. with their solar-powered vehicle, and thrilled
with their adventure, the Esteban team members will tell all sorts of
stories about their experience, and introduce their vehicle. Test
drives will be held in the parking lot behind Polytechnique Montréal. Videos and photos of the competition will be available for the media.
A race with very demanding qualifying rounds
Relay racing 2,700 kilometres in eight days across seven American
states, from Austin, Texas, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, aboard a
solar-powered vehicle that uses only as much energy as a hair dryer —
that's the challenge carried off by the 19 members of Esteban VII.
A highly popular event in the U.S., the American Solar Challenge brings
together international teams that must undergo various technical
inspections and pass three days' worth of rigorous qualifying rounds to
be able to take part in the final race. Of some 20 vehicles that
entered this year (from the U.S., Canada, India, Iran and Puerto Rico),
only 10 managed to make it past the qualifying rounds. The race itself,
on a route full of tight turns and steep hills, put the solar vehicles
to a gruelling test. In the end, only eight of them reached the
A first for a Québec team
This is the first time a Québec team has reached the top ranks in the
American Solar Challenge (the last such successful Canadian performance
was in 2003, when a University of Waterloo team placed third). Working
with a budget one-sixth to one-eighth of those of its American
competitors, the Esteban VII made its mark with its technical
qualities, particularly its cruising speed, which hit 75 km/h, well
beyond the expected 60 km/h.
As an extra shot in the arm for the Polytechnique students, their team
won the Spirit of the Event Award at the competition's closing,
acknowledging the team members' skills and professionalism.
"I was very impressed by how well my team performed," said Esteban
Director Gabriel Brassard, an engineering physics student at
Polytechnique Montréal. "While dealing with the difficulties of the
competition, we remained united and well-organized."
Motor breakdown, fire, storms, snakes and scorpions… the race was
practically an obstacle course!
The Polytechnique team dealt with quite a few challenges. One of its
vehicle's two wheel-motors broke down during the qualifications, and
that was just the start!
"To continue the qualifying rounds, we had to change our car's
propulsion system so that it would work with just one motor. But that
would have handicapped us for the race itself," Mr. Brassard recalled.
"By a stroke of luck, the CalSol - UC Berkeley Solar Vehicle Team came to our rescue. Since their vehicle didn't qualify, they lent us
their motors. It was a wonderful gesture of student solidarity, and it
made it possible for us to finish the race."
Next, a battery belonging to a team that was sharing the same garage as
Esteban caught fire, so all of the Esteban team's equipment ended up
getting completely soaked by the sprinkler system.
Nature also helped complicate things, not only by bringing stormy and
cloudy days, but also by having a few not-so-friendly animals drop by
the campsite where the team spent their nights during the qualifying
"We heard coyotes wandering near the campsite, and we came across
rattlesnakes and scorpions near our tents. It was quite the exotic
adventure!" Mr. Brassard recounted.
The Esteban VII solar car by-the-numbers:
45 students worked on the project for over 2 years.
The group had an annual budget of more than $100,000 to design the car.
The car weighs 290 kg with the driver (reduced by 30% compared with
Esteban VI, which weighed 420 kg).
The car reached a cruising speed of 75 km/h.
The top speed reached was 85 km/h.
The new propulsion system includes two custom-made wheel-motors.
The car has a carbon fibre chassis.
It uses 390 solar cells.
About Polytechnique Montréal
Founded in 1873, Polytechnique Montréal is one of Canada's leading
engineering teaching and research institutions. It is the largest
engineering university in Québec for the size of its graduate student
body and the scope of its research activities. With over 41,400
graduates, Polytechnique Montréal has educated nearly one-quarter of
the current members of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec.
Polytechnique provides training in 15 engineering specialties, employs
248 professors and has more than 7,500 students. It has an annual
operating budget of over $210 million, including an $82-million
WHAT: Media briefing to meet the Esteban VII team, which finished fourth in
the American Solar Challenge
WHEN: Thursday, August 7, 2014, 10 a.m.
2500, chemin de Polytechnique
Bell Amphitheatre, 6th floor of the main building
Located on the Université de Montréal campus
Parking available behind the main building
Campus map: http://www.polymtl.ca/rensgen/coordonnees/campus.php
SOURCE: Polytechnique Montréal
For further information:
Communications, Polytechnique Montréal