The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s (NMMU’s) Advanced Mechatronic Technology Centre (AMTC) and the Volkswagen Group/DAAD International Chair in the School of Engin-eering at the university, have initi- ated a project to design and build a solar car to compete in the biennial South African Solar Challenge in 2012.
The challenge sees participants from all over the world compete in a two-week race, driving solar-powered vehicles across South Africa.
The 2012 event will be the third race on local soil, and has, to date, been dominated by Japanese teams.
“While building the solar vehicle, NMMU engineering students will not only be exposed to the many facets of renewable energy and its various applications, but also have a green platform from which to conduct future research for postgraduate studies,” says the university in a statement.
The Volkswagen Group of South Africa (VWSA) has made a financial contribution to ensure the start of the project, while the Uitenhage-based manufacturer is also offering assistance with the sourcing of components required by the team.
Automotive Industry Devel- opment Centre Eastern Cape GM Estelle Gathercole says the alignment of initiatives and thinking to support greening technologies is essential to the development of the metropolitan area as a hub for research and commercialisation in the renewable-energy field.
“The challenge is to adapt an existing approach to learning or doing business in a way that supports innovation and research and development, specifically in the area of renewable energy. “This project aims to develop competences in engineers and other students to ensure they are equipped with broader skills than those of just their specific disciplines.”
A team of keen engineering students has already begun researching all aspects of the project and developing concept designs in preparation for the solar vehicle manufacturing, she adds.