From Sunrise to Sunset

Juniors Build Solar Car to Race Across the Country


Arjun Vasudaven '24

Simon Dickerson ’24 works on the solar car in his garage.

Benjamin Hoppe, Online Editor

1400 miles across the desert in the middle of July. Fort Worth to California. All in a solar car constructed by 11 FWCD Upper School students and physics teacher Dr. John Cordell. 

In the fall of last school year, Richard Souchick ‘24 found out about a solar car challenge in Fort Worth by the name of the Solar Car Challenge. Very creative. The group hosting the challenge alternates the task, like in the hit video game of the decade, “Among Us,” that the students have to complete. Last year, the teams’ goal was to complete as many laps as possible around the Texas Motor Speedway. Souchick worked with a group of students from another school last year, and it got him thinking about forming a group at FWCD.

“I helped [another team] here and there, and I went to their race at the Texas Motor Speedway,” Souchick said. “I thought this would be great if I started it here.”

Souchick then told two of his friends, Simon Dickerson ‘24 and Arjun Vasudevan ‘24, about the challenge. They were both on board, so their next step was to ask someone to be their Team Adviser.

“We realized [building the car] would be doable, so we pitched it to Dr. Cordell, and he seemed really interested,” Vasudevan said.

Before they could start building the car, they needed funding for the parts they needed to order, so Souchick, Vasudaven, and Dickerson prepared a presentation for Head of School Eric Lombardi.

“We presented to Lombardi after about a week of prepping the entire project to ask the school to fund a Solar Car Challenge,” Dickerson said.

The total project is expected to cost around $20,000, and the school is funding half of it while the team is working on raising money for the remaining $10,000.

Richard Souchick ’24 and Simon Dickerson ’24 started welding the frame of the car in early January (Arjun Vasudevan ’24)

“We emailed corporations like Don Davis Auto Group and Satori Capital,” Vasudevan said. “We’ve raised about $1,100 so far.”

After receiving funding, the team ordered parts for their car, and started building the frame over winter break. The team is still in the early stages of building the car, but are still on track to meet their deadline before the competition in July

“We’re expecting to have most of the frame together by February or March,” Souchick said. “By summer break, we’ll have most of [the car] done.”
The competition, hosted by Lockhead Martin and Oncor, will involve the team driving from Fort Worth to Palmdale, California. The cars will drive on highways and public roads, so to ensure safety, there will be one lead car and one chase car driving behind the solar car. Drivers will also switch out driving the solar car in order to avoid fatigue, especially due to potential extreme temperatures.

Arjun Vasudevan ’24, Simon Dickerson ’24, and Richard Souchick ’24 completed the majority of the frame by the end of January. (Arjun Vasudevan ’24)

Dickerson, Souchick, and Vasudevan have made solid progress on building the car, and are looking forward to the competition in July.

To help fund the team, reach out to either [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected] for more information.