University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota solar car finishes second in cross-country race

July 28, 2014

The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project team finished second overall in the 2014 American Solar Challenge, an eight-day, 1,700-mile race that started in Austin, Texas on July 21 and ended at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis today.

The team, made up of students from the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering, finished with a total elapsed time of 45 hours, 19 minutes and 9 seconds over the eight days. First-place University of Michigan finished the race in 41 hours, 27 minutes and 29 seconds. Third place Iowa State University finished with a time of 50 hours, 18 minutes and 46 seconds.

“I’m really proud of our team,” said Bryan Dean, the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project team leader and a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. “It was also great ending the race at home on the University of Minnesota campus and seeing all of our supporters cheering for us. That was really a lot of fun.”

The University of Minnesota was one of 24 teams from the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Iran competing in designing, building and driving a car completely powered by the sun. Only about 10 teams passed all of the requirements to compete in the cross-country race. In the track race prior to the cross-country race, the University of Minnesota team finished in third.

The University of Minnesota's car, named Centaurus III, was originally built in 2012 but included a newly revamped electrical system, improved aerodynamics, and new safety features. The car is just over 3 feet tall, about 16 feet long and nearly 6 feet wide. It weighs just under 400 pounds.

About 50 University of Minnesota science and engineering students are members of the Solar Vehicle Project team and had a role in designing and building the car. About a dozen students participated in the cross-country race.

Materials for the U of M’s solar car were funded through cash donations and in-kind donations of parts and materials. In addition to the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, major sponsors of the University of Minnesota’s solar car include 3M, Altium, ANSYS, Cirrus Aircraft, Delta Airlines, IAR Systems, PAR Systems, PTC, Segger and SunPower.

Read more about the race from the students on their blog at

Twin Cities Campus: