Bright minds power the Solar Car Club

Ryan Karpinen '22, Staff Writer

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Lizzie High ‘20 and Ronak Parikh ‘22 testing battery system and solar panels. Photo courtesy of Alex Bower ’20.

The Solar Car Club gives students valuable knowledge in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and design while giving them the experience of working with their hands. This club gives the experience you can’t get in a traditional classroom.

Ronak Parikh ‘22, a second-year club member is currently the director of the electoral committee for the Solar Car Club. He is responsible for arranging meetings outside of regular meeting times.

“I have to arrange meetings for the people in my committee,” Parikh said. “As well as make sure my team gets the things on our agenda done that need to get done, in the time that they need to get done.”

Parikh likes how different the club is from others, being the only club that gives the opportunity of working with other students to create a car that runs entirely on solar energy.

“My favorite part of the Solar Car Club is just how complicated and how unlike any other club it is,” Parikh said. “It’s a huge project that has a very high budget and you’re working with things you’ve never had any experience with before, that just makes it really exciting to be a part of.”

James Adams, teacher and advisor for Solar Car Club, became the advisor last year to bring back the club after it had been shut down temporarily. 

“I had some students that were pretty interested in bringing Solar Car back,” Adams said. “Solar Car had been at South, and took a little break.”

Although he is the advisor for Solar Car Club, he doesn’t run the club. His job involves helping with getting funding and scheduling.

“My job is to help the club run, but I don’t run the club,” Adams said. “Alex Bower is the captain this year, and he’s basically running it.”

Alex Bower ’20, captain of the Solar Car Club, believes the club will help him get a better understanding of engineering.

“Particularly as someone who’s interested in engineering, having that real-life experience that I can take with me to college I think would be really valuable,” Bower said. “Also it helps me realize if engineering is something I really want to pursue.”

The club has had to overcome obstacles, such as funding, but learning different aspects of design and engineering is always the hardest part, according to Bower. 

“I think the most difficult thing is acquiring information because there really is no how-to-build-a-solar-car handbook,” Bower said. “So what we’ve had to do is try and learn things ourselves as much as we can.”

Bower believes the club is important to maintain due to the lack of engineering classes at South. 

“I think it does offer students learning they wouldn’t get in any other class at South,” Bower said. “I think in that regard it is really valuable, also particularly this year we’ve seen a growth in the number of students who want to be involved.”

The club takes a lot of funding and a lot of people to maintain but Bower thinks it is important South continues the club.

“I think giving students that opportunity is really great and really one of a kind, we’re one of two solar car teams in the state of Michigan,” Bower said. “So I think the fact Grosse Pointe South has one of those teams is really special and is something we need to keep.”