By AARON HILL
On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 22 to 24, the Redlands East Valley High School Engineering Club attended the annual Inland Solar Challenge. They created a sixteen foot powered canoe that utilized several large batteries, as well as solar panels to power the motor. They competed in sprint, slalom, and endurance tests against competitors from other high schools who had made similar boats. They also gave a presentation about El Niño and its effect on the California drought compared to snow pact.
Over the course of several months a dedicated few under the leadership of Redlands East Valley teachers Mr. Radoi and Mr. Ridgeway constructed the boat from the ground up. They then added motors, steering, power storage, and the solar panels. Mr. Radoi said, “Almost every aspect of science we learn at REV through Physics, Engineering, Environmental Science, and Chemistry are applied over the course of the event.”
Once the boat had been fully constructed and the time of the competition had come, the team took it down to the Yucaipa Regional Park where the competition takes place. They completed the qualification rounds and inspection on Friday the 22nd of April, and made the final checks on the boat before the rigors the following days would bring. After staying the night as a team at the park, teammates competed in slalom and sprint events with their boat. Having two REVHS students serve as skippers, switching off between events.
The team did experience some technical difficulties on the night of Saturday the 23rd of April. They had to change out the gear system of their boat, as the one they had used that day was sadly inefficient. They also found that one of their solar panels had stopped providing power, and therefore could not be used in the following day’s events. Team member Raul Ramirez said, “I was disappointed in the difficulties we had with the boat in the competition, but it is nothing that you can truly prepare for. There will always be curveballs and I was pretty happy with how the team rolled with the punches.”
REV’s team performed well in the endurance tests despite their setbacks. Their skipper was on the lake for over 90 minutes for this portion of the competition, constantly driving the boat while ensuring all systems ran smoothly. In the end they had completed 19 laps of the lake.
When all points were tallied from the various tests as well as their presentation, the REV Engineering team received an overall placing of 3rd. They also were given the “Best Workmanship” award for the quality of their boat. Teammate Winson Bi said, “I really had a great time with the whole event! All year I’ve had to learn all these different principles in my Engineering and Physics classes, and finally over these past few months I’ve gotten to put all that knowledge to the test.”