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New Paltz Team Drives into the Sunset… Literally

The State University of New York at New Paltz’ Solar Car Team is hitting the road Saturday as one of 18 national teams competing in the 2012 American Solar Challenge (ASC) Road Race, which begins in Rochester and ends in St. Paul, Minn., on July 21. The eight-day race covers a 1,650-plus mile route passing through eight states that border the Great Lakes.

The Solar Car

Julian de la Rua, one of the six members of the SUNY New Paltz Solar Car Team, stands with the Solar Car at the Monticello Motor Club on July 11. (Photo by Kenneth Gabrielsen photography)

The New Paltz team, under the direction of advisor Mike Otis, a professor in the electrical and computer engineering program, is comprised of six members. They are: Andre Candido ’14 (electrical engineering) from New Rochelle, N.Y.; Kira Cozzolino ’12 (business administration) from New Paltz, N.Y.; Julian de la Rua ’12 (electrical engineering) from Mar Del Plata, Argentina; Colin Morrell ’12 (physics) Huntington Station, N.Y.; Luke Stover ’12 (adolescence education: physics) from Middletown, N.Y.; and Ray Williams ’12 (physics) from Kerhonkson, N.Y. The team is also advised by Lee Cabe of Newburgh, a retired physics teacher who has over 20 years of experience in building championship caliber solar powered vehicles. 

“I’m looking at the mold, the frame, the car, and I’m like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe me and my friends actually built this car ourselves,’” Morrell told YNN news network.

In order to compete in the ASC, the team was required to design and fabricate a car that runs completely, and efficiently, on solar electricity only. The frame had to be light weight, but also road worthy. The car’s first test was the Formula Sun Grand Prix, a three-day track race held at the Monticello Motor Club track in Monticello, N.Y. from July 10-12. During this event, the New Paltz solar car was “scrutineered” by judges who checked for safety features and the road worthiness of the vehicle. Then, a qualifying race was held for teams that have entered the ASC Road Race.

“It was a lot of hard work. I think everybody is at ease now that we’re actually going around the track. We put a lot of effort into this car,” Otis told YNN news network.

Added de la Rua, also in a YNN interview, “I’m really excited. All of us have been spending every single day, not even exaggerating, 22 to 23 hours a day the last four days. We probably slept maybe one to two hours a night.”

This is the third time the New Paltz Solar Car Team has competed in the ASC with its Sun Hawk Solar Car. In 2009, the team finished sixth out of 11 teams in the Formula Sun Grand Prix track race. In 2010, the team finished seventh out of 22 teams in the track race and eighth out of 18 teams in the ASC cross country race.

Founded in 2007, the New Paltz Solar Car Team is sponsored by the SUNY New Paltz Student Association, the School of Science & Engineering, and The Solar Energy Consortium. Students are responsible for securing funds, raising renewable energy awareness, and researching and developing solar powered electric vehicles targeted for competition at the American Solar Challenge, Formula Sun Grand Prix, and World Solar Challenge races. For more information about the New Paltz Solar Car Team, visit

To see the Solar Car in action and hear from its creators, check out YNN’s report on the New Paltz Solar Car Team.

According to its website, the purpose of the ASC, hosted by the Innovators Educational Foundation, is to promote and celebrate educational excellence and engineering creativity. It champions the creative integration of technical and scientific expertise across a range of exciting disciplines. The missions of the ASC are: to support and encourage bright young minds to succeed in the fields of engineering, the sciences, mathematics, business, in multi-disciplined experiential learning, and in subsequent careers; and to create public awareness and enthusiasm, both for education excellence and engineering creativity itself, and for the technologies and practices that emerge from that excellence.

    SUNY New Paltz

    Written by SUNY New Paltz

    The State University of New York at New Paltz is a creative, diverse, challenging and supportive environment where you get a degree from a highly selective university and an education rich in experiences that will last a lifetime. At New Paltz, you are encouraged to explore and take intellectual risks, to find your passion, to begin your path and to find your voice.



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    There are 3 comments

  • Splendid effort! How did the race end in the end?

  • I would like to have a designated solar panel electric system to charge an electric car. Can it be designed as a Portable system to take with me if and when I move to a new house? Or can one be designed as a portable system to take in the car and used to charge the car when needed?.

  • Deb says:

    The eight day race will be a long haul with over 1600 miles, but what an experience you will have. I will look forward to seeing the solar car on the YNN’s report on the New Paltz Solar Car Team.

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