Sixteen students from the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayaguez campus have travelled to Austin, Texas, for the 2014 American Solar Challenge, a competition that challenges teams of university students to design, build and race solar-powered vehicles.
Crowley Maritime Corporation, as a sponsor of the school’s Solar Engineering Research Racing Team, shipped the team’s racing vehicle, El Wanabi, from San Juan to the US mainland aboard the Miami, one of the company’s Roll-on/Roll-off (RO/RO) barges.
The vehicle, designed by the school’s Solar Engineering Research Racing Team, will compete against 23 similar units built by teams of students from universities around the world in an eight-day race from Austin to Minneapolis, starting on 21st July.
Before the race, however, teams must qualify to participate by completing a minimum number of laps with each of their drivers during the Formula Sun Grand Prix, a three-day track race in Austin beginning tomorrow (17th July). Starting order for the cross-country road race, during which students must obey speed limits, is determined by the number of laps driven during this qualifying event. Ultimately, the teams are competing for a trophy and recognition for their university.
The students’ vehicle, which had to be dismantled for transit from Puerto Rico to the company’s port terminal in Jacksonville, Fla., was shipped inside a wooden box on a trailer. The Crowley team in San Juan backed the trailer onto the under deck of the Miami to facilitate immediate discharge upon arrival. After Crowley shipped and delivered the vehicle to the students in Jacksonville, they drove it to Austin in time for the beginning of the event. Crowley will also handle the car’s shipment back to Puerto Rico following the competition.
This is the first time since 1995 that the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez has participated in such an event and the vehicle took the team of students a full year to design and an additional six months to build.
Crowley has sponsored competition teams in the past, most recently University of Puerto Rico’s Colegio Racing Engineering group in the annual Formula SAE competition.
The company has proudly served the shipping needs of Puerto Rico since 1954 – originally operating as TMT Trailer Ferry, it has literally served as a lifeline to the island, delivering groceries, department store merchandise, building materials, automobiles and more. Crowley has also helped bolster the Puerto Rican export economy by transporting food, pharmaceuticals, rum and other consumer goods to the US mainland and the company employs almost 200 people in Puerto Rico with an annual payroll of over $18.5 million.
Pictured (from left to right) are Miguel Román, logistics manager, Francheska Lopez, solar car driver, Edward Padilla, suspension design leader, Xavier Camacho, electrical leader, Marielis Suarez, roll cage design leader and solar car driver, Ernesto Perez, manufacturing leader, Gustavo González, captain, and Kevin Corpetti, battery design leader, at Crowley’s port terminal in Jacksonville.