Driving to make change and impact in solar knowledge

19 August 2020

Schools around Australia are invited to express their interest and get students involved in science by participating in a national solar car challenge.

The 2020 API STELR Solar Car Challenge, launched by The Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) and the Australian Power Institute (API), challenges students or student teams to construct and modify a solar car to make it either the fastest, most powerful or most energy efficient.

ATSE CEO Ms Kylie Walker said she was thrilled to be partnering again with API, which is sponsoring 14 solar car kits to support schools to take up the challenge.

“We’re keen to hear expressions of interest from remote, regional and under-served schools to receive a solar car kit, so that students can have fun with technology and engineering and learn about one of Australia’s most popular renewable energy sources,” she said.

“The Challenge draws creative and design skills together with physics and engineering, to solve a real-world problem with guidance and mentoring from a young engineer. Winning designs will be showcased with the Academy’s national network of leading engineers and technologists.”

API Solar Car Challenge school teams will compete to creatively work with renewable energy concepts to design and build efficient solutions for solar cars.

“The API and our 19 members from across the Australian power sector are passionate about inspiring the next generation of Australia’s STEM workforce – we know first-hand how important STEM skills will be in supporting our industries and communities in the future,” API CEO Dr David Pointing said.

“The power sector in particular is going to need creative, collaborative and capable young people to help us design, build, operate and maintain our energy systems, and we recognise that it is vital to reach and inspire students early on in their educational journeys.

“The Solar Car Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to connect with students and demonstrate how practical applications of STEM skills, such as solar energy systems, can lead into fun, challenging, and rewarding opportunities and careers.

“The challenges range from working with innovative technologies to developing solutions focused on community needs and working in diverse teams of people.”

The STELR Solar Car Kit includes a class set of 10 model solar car kits and a teachers’ jar of spare parts.

Expressions of interest to receive a kit and participate in the API Solar Car Challenge are due by 31 August.


Background on the API Solar Car Challenge

The API ATSE Solar Car program links university engineering students (who currently are a part of the API bursary program) with the participating high‐schools by sending an undergraduate engineer to share their passion for a career in the energy industry. During the visit the young engineers have a chance to assist with solar car construction, judge the cars, and award prizes.

Background on the STELR program

STELR (Science and Technology Education Leveraging Relevance) is a national initiative of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

The primary aim of STELR is to address the problem of low participation rates in STEM subjects at the upper secondary school level. It does this by developing teaching modules relating these subjects to highly relevant issues affecting all students.

STELR equipment encourages both guided and open-ended research. It has been designed and developed in Australia specifically for STELR and is robust, simple and easy to use.

STELR has produced more than 20 curriculum modules comprising over 280 lessons, 100 hands-on activities, 30 career profile videos and 80 written career profiles. Many modules are supported by kits of Australian-designed and manufactured equipment to facilitate inquiry-based, hands-on, minds-on, problem-based learning