A Clarkson Mosaic - page 519

Solar Car.
One of the 35 which qualified to compete in the Department of Energy's Sunrayce
'93, was Clarkson's fourth solar car, dubbed Excelsior No. 4. It placed 28th on the 1,000-mile
trip on secondary state and county roads in normal traffic across six states from Dallas to
Minneapolis on June 20-27. Driving only from 9:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., the winner was the
solar-powered car with the lowest cumulative elapsed time in completing the official course.
Shaped like a cross-section of an airplane wing, Excelsior No. 4 was built with PVC
foam and kevlar, the material used in bulletproof vests and parachutes. Bonding the kevlar to
the foam with epoxy reduced the weight of the car to just 550 pounds, 200 below the field
average. Its only major non-composite components were chrome alloy suspension, three
wheels, and a roll bar.
In the qualifying test at Arlington, Texas, Excelsior posted the fastest average speed of
24.83 mph. Then, racing through sun and rain and traffic and potholes, it completed the race.
All its power came from a two-meter by four-meter solar array of 779 single crystal silicon cells
which collected radiation and converted it into electricity sent to the motor and its 10 12-volt
lead acid batteries.
Excelsior No. 4 cost just $28,000, while the first place University of Michigan had a
reported $1.2 million budget, with $75,000 going to build their vehicle. Bill Dyrland '93,
project leader of Clarkson's solar car, asserted that this whole project had been the best learning
experience of his college career. He went on to add that not only did he use his mechanical
engineering knowledge, but also he learned to work with people of different disciplines, and
gained the communication skills necessary to succeed in the working world today.
World Wide Web.
In May, Clarkson's Technical Communications Department began
involvement in one of the up-and-coming aspects of the "Information Superhighway"-the
World Wide Web. The TC faculty long has been interested in Internet information exchange
and collaboration; this World Wide Web is the first system to provide easy access to the
Visions of the Web's ultimate popularity and facility to deliver Internet goods prompted
the department to propose that Clarkson offer a server which represented the University to the
world community. Working together with the computer services division of Clarkson's
Educational Resources Center (ERC), TC junior Peter Deuel and Associate Prof. Dennis Horn
posted a variety of educational material and community information on the Web: a brief history
of the University, items of interest about university academics, scholarship, and research, a
University map, sports calendars, and selections from this
The Web also provided a new media for students since Clarkson's Web service started
in November 1993. Students have devoted Web pages to documenting NASA research, laser
printer maintenance, Clarkson clubs, professional societies, jobs listings, and even other Web
As interest in the Web grew, Clarkson received grants to develop servers for special
academic interests. The Society for Technical Communication was the first to award a $10,000
grant to the TC department for it to experiment with offering Web services and report the
results to a national audience.
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