Club Spotlight – Engineers gear up
for 2019 ‘Solar Car Challenge’


Kyle Swackhammer

The engineer club upgrades their car for the race in 2019. The race will take place at the Texas Motor Speedway. “We named our car Apollo,” team captain Tanten Jones said. “We built it all from scratch from the ground up two years ago, so it has taken a lot of work.”

The high school’s “Mighty Engineer Club” will race their solar car at the Texas Motor Speedway July 15. The Solar Car Challenge is a product of a 15-month cycle, including participating in specific workshops, oral presentations, “scrutineering” sessions and an opening banquet.

“I think that the solar car team will do a lot better this year,”  senior and team captain Tanten Jones said. “We are going to improve the car a lot this year so we can compete at a higher level.”

Their previous solar panels were heavy, so they are designing lighter ergonomic panels for the speedway.

“So far we have begun redesigning our panels for the new race so that we can have less issues there,” Jones said. “We are looking at redoing our brakes and things like that so we can be more efficient.”

Next year, the race will be on the same track where driver Richard Petty has won seven NASCAR championships.

“The competition switches every other year.  Three years ago was to Indianapolis,” Sophomore Thomas Dugger said. “Last year was to California but every other year the race is around the track.”

The “Mighty Engineers” solar car has won some awards of their own. Last year, they were presented The Jarett Dunn Award” for displaying the greatest application of information systems. The team is led by sponsor Enrique Elias.

I think the Texas Motor Speedway has a lot less variables. It should be a more constant race because there are less things to worry about.

— team captain Tanten Jones

According to Jones, the team still has their work cut out for them, but they are confident they will succeed.

“It takes a lot of dedication and time to be in the Solar Car club,” Jones said. “We work a lot after school and on Saturdays. I’ve spent many hours working on it.”

This school year marks Jones’ last on the team because he will be graduating in May, but he said he knows this will not be the team’s final race.

“The team has a lot of room where it can grow,” Jones said. “I think it will do better in the years to come.”

The Prosper Solar Car group, led by Enrique Elias, shared this tweet from Amanda Torres Elias. She published the images July 28 after the team finished seventh in the 3,446-mile trek across the west half of the country. In 2019, the team will race their solar car at the Texas Motor Speedway July 15.