Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Misdemeanor charges dropped against NU faculty for activity during pro-Palestinian encampment
City Council approves $2 million grant application to renovate Hilda’s Place, talks Evanston Dog Beach accessibility access
City Council expands guaranteed income program, exempts athletic fields from leaf blower ordinance
Body recovered in Lake Michigan, EPD examining identity of body
Evanston’s ‘Seeds of Change’ theme inspires unity at Fourth of July parade
Lawsuit against Pritzker School of Law alleges its hiring process discriminates against white men
Evanston Fire concludes recovery search and rescue efforts for missing swimmer after ‘exhausting’ all resources
Perry: A little humility goes a long way

Brew, Hou, Leung, Pandey: On being scared to tweet and the pressure to market yourself as a student journalist

June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

June 4, 2024

Independent review of athletics department released, puts forth key recommendations

Northwestern hosts groundbreaking ceremony at Ryan Field construction site

June 25, 2024

Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins

June 13, 2024


The secret (and short) lives of cicadas on campus

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

Adler displays NuSolar car

“So, who wants to drive?”

That’s what McCormick senior Vytas Bradunas asked a crew of fellow NuSolar teammates as they began transporting one of their solar cars to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, where it will be on display for at least one year.

Northwestern’s solar car team, NuSolar, has been building solar energy-powered cars since 1997. This car, ‘Nergy, weighs 1,100 pounds and is powered by solar cells that cover its shell. The cells convert sunlight into energy that is stored in a lead-acid battery pack fueling a motor, which is 97 to 98 percent efficient in its use of power, said McCormick sophomore Phillip Dziedzic, the team’s sponsorship chairman. ‘Nergy went on display Saturday, March 15 at the planetarium. It is the team’s second car and the “most beautiful in terms of aesthetics,” said McCormick junior Michael Awadalla, the team’s research and development chairman.

The car placed 26th in the 2001 American Solar Challenge, a 10-day, 2,300-mile race from Chicago to Los Angeles along Route 66.

NuSolar approached the Adler Planetarium in hopes of finding a new home for ‘Nergy. Prior to the move, it had periodically been on display in the lobby of the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center since the building was first erected in 2005.

The six team members had to take the car apart to carry it inside the planetarium. They took the rear wheels and top shell off of the car and rotated the chassis, or the bottom part of the car, vertically to fit through Adler’s narrow doors. The car was then reassembled inside the building.

The solar car “emphasizes that earth science is a part of space science, expanding the understanding of what space science is,” said Julian Jackson, the planetarium’s director of experience design. Jackson oversees the overall experience of patrons and visitors to the planetarium.

Originally founded with a focus on astronomy, the planetarium has been expanding its emphasis on space exploration. The planetarium is also exploring eco-friendly design and incorporating the concept into all of their exhibits. It houses display models of NASA Mars rovers, which also run on solar energy.

“The connection between Northwestern’s solar car team and space exploration is actually very clear there,” Jackson said.

NuSolar alternates between design and build years, in which they plan and construct car models to compete in cross-country racing competitions every two years. While the team is highly dedicated to building sustainable automobile models, members understand that wide commercial use of solar cars is neither practical nor likely to be adopted in the near future, said Patrick Markan, one of the team’s co-captains.

“Most of the driving you do is just transporting yourself, and people would rather have a nice, heavy car than save energy,” the McCormick senior said.

But this does not mean team members feel their efforts are in vain.

“The point is not trying to create a mass-production vehicle, but more of a demonstration,” Markan said. “You can power a (solar) car that goes across the country. That’s definitely viable, and pushes for education and funding for solar energy.”

Supporting alternative energy is one of NuSolar’s three foundational goals, along with team member education and competing in races at the end of each build year, Awadalla said.

By putting one of their cars on display, NuSolar can further spread the idea of sustainable energy beyond NU.

“It’s great to finally see one of our cars in a museum,” Bradunas said. “And it is nice to see it in a place where it will be appreciated.”

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Adler displays NuSolar car