Thursday, June 14, 2012

[480] MTSU Boat Team Enters Solar Splash with Great Expectations

For release:  June 14, 2012

News and Media Relations contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-5616 or
Second contact: Dr. Saeed Foroudastan, 615-417-2761 or

What’s ahead this week for MTSU solar boat team

• MTSU sails into international Solar Splash with high hopes;

• 10-member student team’s hard work could earn multiple awards; and

• solar boat’s drive unit is May grad Brandon Cromwell’s work or art

MTSU boat team enters Solar Splash with great expectations

MURFREESBORO — The captain of the MTSU solar boat team competing in this week’s international Solar Splash competition is quite optimistic about the crew’s chances.

Brent Brubaker, leader of the 10-member team, expects MTSU to have its best-ever finish by competition’s end.

“We expect to do extremely well in the competition this year,” said Brubaker, a May graduate. “And not just in performance, but in design awards as well.”

Solar Splash is the world championship of intercollegiate solar/electric boating. Its website said Solar Splash is “a practical educational experience, which helps to develop teamwork and interdisciplinary skills.”

Solar Splash was “established to promote interest in science and technology, education and personal interactive skills,” giving students “an opportunity to apply theory to a practical project in a team environment.” It has highly defined rules and guidelines teams must follow.

The 19th annual Solar Splash is being held on George Wyth Lake between Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa, for the second straight year. After arriving Tuesday, the MTSU team registered its entry and was tied for seventh place in the June 13 technical report category.

The visual display, workmanship and qualifying are scheduled for today (June 14).
The Solar Slalom, Solar Endurance and Solar Splash events will be held June15-17. Awards will be presented June 17. To see a test demonstration of the MTSU solar boat, click on Result updates can be found at

Brubaker and his mates — vice captains and May grads Orry Blackwood and Tony Lee; May grad Brandon Cromwell, graduate student Ken Gendrich, sophomores Tiffany Vanderpool and Cary Woodson, juniors Huy Brogdon and Dale Sikkema and senior Honer Sofi — have been working extremely hard to prepare a first-class boat.

“It looks amazing,” Brubaker said of the MTSU entry, “and in the testing we've done during the previous weeks, it’s performed very, very well. We're achieving speeds far faster than in previous seasons. And upon comparing them to the winning speeds and scores from last year's competition, we expect to do extremely well in the competition this year.”

Brubaker and the team are particularly proud of the boat’s drive unit, which was designed and made by Cromwell in two weeks’ time, Brubaker said.

“The drive unit is 100 percent designed and constructed here on campus,” Brubaker said. “It’s of a caliber I can guarantee never has been seen at this competition before. It’s going to cause a lot of excitement, and we are almost guaranteed to win the most innovative drivetrain design award.”

Also, Brubaker said their optimism includes “a pretty good shot at the outstanding hull design and workmanship awards.”

The team chose to build a completely new vessel with new electrical and mechanical systems, Brubaker added.

Among numerous technical specifications, solar boats may not exceed six meters (19 feet, 8 inches) in length and 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10.5 inches) in width. The maximum allowable height above the waterline is 1.5 meters (4 feet, 11 inches). Sunlight is the only power source that shall be sued for propulsion. Wind and human power are not allowed.

Each boat will have a skipper who will be the sole occupant. Solar panels and batteries are the only components that may be removed from or added to the boat for different configurations.

MTSU’s previous best finish was eighth overall in 2010, a year when it also earned the Sportsmanship Award. MTSU has earned various team awards since it began competing in 2006.

Engineering technology lab director Rick Taylor and Dr. Saeed Foroudastan, associate dean in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, serve as faculty advisers.


Note: High-resolution photos are attached.

Photo captions

Huy Brogdon.jpg photo caption

Junior Huy Brogdon brings the MTSU solar boat entry back to the dock after a test run on George Wyth Lake June 14 at the international Solar Splash in Iowa. (Submitted photo)

Solar boat drive unit.jpg photo caption

The MTSU solar boat’s drive unit was designed and made by recent graduate Brandon Cromwell in two weeks’ time this spring. (Submitted photo)

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