The team consisted of six Devon Prep students, sophomores Jacob Riedel of Pottstown, Antonio Muscarella of Norristown, Chris Clayton of Phoenixville, Rich Gargano of Broomall, Freshmen Fiore Schena of Wayne and Michael Horbowy of Malvern, and a student from the Renaissance Academy, senior Michael Leuter of Phoenixville. Jacob Riedel and Michael Leuter were the only drivers.
“When I first heard about this project I thought it was a really cool idea. I’m interested in ecology and this seemed like a great way to get into green technology,”
These young men worked on this project for nearly a year. Building a car like this isn’t easy or inexpensive so they began with a mission statement, created a Facebook page and a website (http://thedevonpanel.club.officelive.com/
“Getting those six solar panels for free was so exciting,” Riedel said. “It lifted a big financial burden for us.”
Earlier this year Riedel and his father attended a Solar Car Challenge workshop in Texas where they learned how to wire the car, what motors work best, and other useful information. The boys have taken the project from concept to reality through hundreds of hours of research, trial and error, and hard work.
“I assumed that the project would be an enormous undertaking that would take a lot of effort, time, dedication and research,’’ said Antonio Muscarella. “But it’s all been worth it. It’s really a fun experience and we’re learning at the same time and that’s the best part about it. You get such a sense of accomplishment, and in the end you’ve actually built a car!”
According to both Riedel and Muscarella, winning was not the goal this year. “Our main goal was to not come off the track, and to not have any unexpected stops. We didn’t have to win. We just wanted to finish,” Riedel said.
They did better than just finish, they actually placed fourth behind three teams who had competed in the race several times before. The goal was to log as many laps as possible during the four-day race. Devon Prep’s Team completed 252 laps.
For Muscarella, who wants to study biology in college, there was another significant aspect to this whole event, the effects on the environment. “I’m always worried about pollution and the environment and the detrimental effects car emissions has on the environment,”
In the end, Muscarella feels that the whole experience was well worth the time spent. “The Devon Prep Solar Car team has been an extraordinary experience for me as well as my teammates,” he said. “Through the course of this project, we all learned so many different skills that will prove to be very useful later in life.”
“I was ecstatic to find that we came in fourth place,” Muscarella continued, “and I remember how awesome it was to receive the fourth place trophy. Then the assistant race director Colin, a native Texan, awarded us his Texas belt buckle because he was so impressed by how well we performed during the event. We left the event with our heads held high and a great sense of achievement.”
The Solar Car Challenge was established in 1993 to help motivate students in science and engineering, and to increase alternative energy awareness. In 1993, the Winston Solar Car Team launched an education program to teach high school students how to build and safely race roadworthy solar cars. The Winston Solar Education Program met this objective, and works to provide curriculum materials, on-site visits, and workshop opportunities for high schools across the country. The end product of each two-year education cycle is the Winston Solar Challenge: a closed-track event at the world famous Texas Motor Speedway, or a cross country event designed to give students an opportunity to display their work.
Devon Prep is a private, Catholic, college preparatory school for young men in grades six through 12 conducted by the Piarist Fathers. The school, which is located on a 20 acre campus in Devon, Pa, educates nearly 300 students who hail from the five county Philadelphia area. For more information call 610-688-7337, or visit www.devonprep.com or www.facebook.com/