A Message to our Supporters
Dearest Sponsors, Partners, Faculty and Friends,
These past six months have been incredible. In the closing days of 2018 we were the gracious recipients of one of Stanford University’s old solar car frames, and we hatched an ambitious and seemingly impossible plan; to jump-start a solar car team and build a vehicle powered solely by the sun, in the span of just six months.
It was an idea so outrageous that we were met with incredulity and ridicule by many, especially since it takes the best teams in the world at least year and a half to design and construct a solar car. Many looked down at us as rookies from ‘Jersey, a state known to outsiders for its ever interesting shore and the Parkway, green behind the ears and with twinkly little stars in our eyes that blurred our vision of reality. Those people were not wrong; we were novices in the field of solar cars, dazzled by the groundbreaking technology of those sleek vehicles, and out to prove that there is a reason that New Jersey is called the Garden State.
Yet I would be dishonest in saying that we didn’t think we could do it either at times. Learning how to build a solar car, constructing it, and aiming to complete it within six months may well be one of the hardest things we will ever do. There are not enough potholes in our state to count the nights we spent working on the car until the wee hours of the morning, or the number of obstacles we had to climb over; some of which ultimately proved to be too high.
As the Formula Sun Grand Prix closed in, we realized that it would be nearly impossible to get the car race worthy. The roll cage protecting the driver was not up to the high standards of the FSGP and the Circuit of the Americas, and our mechanical and electrical systems hadn't been finished. Yet instead of sulking and retreating in defeat we marched on, working harder and longer than we ever had, culminating in a 72 hour period at a Hackerspace in Austin where our engineers worked around the clock in shifts to ensure that all parts were machined to get the car rolling into the pit lane.
On Saturday afternoon, as the race was coming to a close and under the intrigued eye of the race judges, we ran into our garage with the car, and to everyone’s surprise bolted on our suspension and brought it out into the simmering sunlight of a calm Texan evening. While we may not have been able to race, that brief moment we stood out in the sun taking a picture of the car in the pit lane, while being yelled at to start packing up our messy garage, made the six months all worth it.
As we cross through half the country on our way back to our home state, we can’t help but wonder as to how we were able to still make this come together. It is like an equation with an outcome that does not seem to match. Yet as we look closer at this journey, it becomes quickly apparent as to what the external factor was. That missing variable is you – our supporters. Without you we would not be returning from Texas as we speak. We would not have a solar car on wheels moments away from driving around the Garden State on the power of the sun. Whether you donated in excess of $20,000 or as little as $20, wrote articles about us or just followed our page on social media, you made a difference. You saw something in a small team of engineers and business students, photography majors and aspiring graphic design artists. You shared our passion for renewable energy and emboldened us with your support, enabling us to start what is set to be a long legacy of solar cars coming from Rutgers University. Along with building a solar car, that support allowed us to also create a groundbreaking educational partnership with the New Brunswick Public Schools to inspire the upcoming generations of sustainable entrepreneurs. As the State University of New Jersey, we have a mandate to educate and empower Jerseans from all backgrounds and means to push forward our state and innovate, bringing about a better future for us all. Thanks to you, we will deliver on that promise and welcome dozens of rising high school students from New Brunswick to our campus later this summer to kick off an in-depth collaboration, which will eventually see them shadow our team members and work on the many solar cars to come. On behalf of the entire team, thank you for your unwavering support! We can’t wait to continue this adventure with you by our side! Sincerely, Thomas Brinckman Managing Director – Rutgers Solar Car Team