If you are a supporter of education, a renewable energy enthusiast, or simply have a passion for science, please follow our progress on our team website and Facebook, as well as donate to our GoFundMe page.
For my passion project, I decided to work on the solar car. I and a group of students from Animas High School have taken part in the Solar Car Challenge, a nation-wide high-school level competition. Each team in this competition designs builds and maintains a solar car. During the two hours per day for the last three weeks that we have been given to work on our passion projects, I decided to work on the fundraising, as this is one of the roles that I have taken on for the team. This included finding prospective donors, corresponding with them via email and phone, setting up a meeting, meeting and presenting our team’s mission in the most convincing way possible, and finally learning how to write invoices. I spent much of the first week in constant correspondence with representatives from Shaw Solar. We set up a meeting, and I got to practice pitching our mission to a prospective donor. This project time was a good way for me to contact businesses during the workday.
I originally got involved with the solar car team at AHS because I wanted to get more experience with electronics and mechanics. I have found that on top of being a great outlet for my engineering-oriented mind, it also gave me the opportunity to practice leadership and fundraising.
One of the things that I am most proud of from this passion project was my success when meeting with Shaw Solar. As I have said, I am very new to the whole notion of fundraising and budgeting. I have just jumped right in, going from nothing to applying for sponsorships with banks and local businesses.
With the Shaw Solar exchange, I am proud of my professionalism in my approach, as well as my increasing comfort with explaining the project to prospective donors. I reached out to Shaw Solar via email, and my concise explanation of the project and our needs got me an immediate and positive response. After several emails back and forth, I was able to set up a date to meet. I feel like I walked into that meeting as prepared as I could have been, and I was proud of my in-depth knowledge of the goings-on of the team. After our meeting, it was only a matter of hours before Shaw Solar emailed me and informed me that they would be donating $500 to our team. I then sent them an invoice (another new skill), and a thank-you letter. All in all, this interaction could not have possibly gone any better. I am proud of my increasing proficiency in fundraising and hope to use this newfound skill to help the team forward.
Something that I am constantly doing with this ongoing challenge, is asking myself what the next step is. Whether that is small, such as what emails need to go to which people, or large, like a time at which I would like to have a certain amount of money fundraised, these goals are a concrete way to monitor my progress. Some upcoming goals of mine include broadcasting our team and mission. I mean to do this mainly through the papers. I plan to reach out to local newspapers to see if we could get them to run an article on the team. This will be beneficial because not only will it open the eyes of the public to what we are doing, but it will also act as a great platform through which to reach more possible donors. It really adds credibility to our case if the team has already featured in local newspapers. Other than that, I also mean to contact some more widely-based companies to see if they would sponsor our team.
On the mechanical side of the challenge, the team is currently working on fixing the springs on the suspension, as well as looking for wheels that are of a small enough diameter so as to not run into the solar panels, but also large enough to provide a smooth ride.
One of our biggest must-do’s is troubleshooting the motor controller. We have struggled to program the motor controller and recently found that the changes that need to be made cannot be made by anyone other than the manufacturers. They graciously agreed to fix our coding problem for free, given that the problem should not have happened in the first place, and we hope to have the motor-controller free of problems very soon.
As always, please keep up with the team on our website, or through Facebook, and consider leaving a small donation in our GoFundMe.