Rollin' on the river

Solar BoatSolar boat-racing teams and fans from around the world will come to Cedar Falls June 8 through 12 to participate in the 2011 Solar Splash World Championship of Intercollegiate Solar Boat Racing. Solar Splash, which began in Milwaukee in 1994, is a hands-on educational experience that fosters teamwork and interdisciplinary skills while spotlighting sustainable and clean-boating technologies.

UNI has participated in Solar Splash since 2000. This is the first year, however, that the university will host the event. Twenty-one teams from four countries will participate in the competition, which will be held at George Wyth State Park in Cedar Falls.

"The event is dedicated to spotlighting sustainable and clean boating technologies, and this is something Iowa's lakes and rivers could clearly benefit from," said "Reg Pecen, UNI professor of industrial technology and advisor to UNI’s seven-student team, which is called the Solar Panthers. "It also allows undergraduates to be involved in applied engineering and technology research and to develop confidence in their abilities."           

Solar BoatThe Solar Panthers placed third in 2009 and 2010. Also in 2010, and for the first time since UNI joined the competition, the Solar Panthers qualified to compete in the Sprint World Championship, where they finished third behind the University of New Orleans College of Naval Engineering and the University of South Hampton, UK. In 2010, the Solar Panthers also brought home a trophy for Outstanding Solar System Design, which was given to the team that displayed outstanding knowledge and hands-on skills.

"This was a prestigious design and implementation award for the UNI team, as they were up against some of the nation’s top engineering schools," said Pecen.  

During the five-day event, Solar Splash teams earn points in seven categories: technical inspections and reports; engineering design; visual displays; workmanship; and sprint, endurance and slalom competitions on the water.