Friday, June 26, 2015

[510] MTSU solar boat team claims second place, eight national awards

MURFREESBORO — MTSU’s solar boat team sailed confidently against a strong field competing in a recent national competition in Dayton, Ohio.

The team’s confidence with the solar boat they nicknamed “True Blue” lived up to their expectations in the 2015 Solar Splash, an American Society of Mechanical Engineers-sponsored event.

With its highest finish ever, MTSU placed second to host Cedarville University in the 16-team event held on Lake George Wyth.
Solar Splash, officially named the International Intercollegiate Solar/Electric Boat Regatta, is the world championship of intercollegiate solar/electric boating. Teams come from across the country to compete.

“I’m extremely proud of the team’s effort and showing,” said Saeed Foroudastan, adviser and director of the university’s Experimental Vehicles Program. “The forethought, dedication and engineering improvements that were necessary to bring this year’s entry to fruition earned eight awards, the greatest number of honors to date at the Solar Splash competition.”

The eight awards include:

• Outstanding Design Achievement Award, presented by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Power Electronics Society.

• First place in Solar Slalom.

• Second place in qualifying, presented by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Solar Energy division. To receive this award, the boat must have the best overall design to qualify for the race.

• Second place in the sprint competition (MTSU had the second-fastest boat).

• Outstanding Workmanship and Sportsmanship awards.

• Third-place award for visual display.

• Second place overall.

Rising senior Lindsey Blankenship of Lexington, Tennessee, and junior David Sprouls of Danville, Illinois, piloted the boat as the respective endurance and speed event drivers.

“It went well with new batteries, but not as well as we would’ve liked, but all in all, it was good,” Blankenship said. “I’m very happy and proud (of finishing second). I was nervous during the race because there had been a few collisions.”

“We achieved 24 miles per hour. That’s the fastest we’ve gone,” Sprouls said. “We did not have a single problem. … The other boat (Cedarville) was really fast. We sharpened the edge of the propeller. It made us a little faster, but we were still behind them.”

Even with the best lead-acid batteries that MTSU can buy, the top speed lasts only about one minute, Sprouls, a mechatronics engineering major, added.

Blankenship, a double major in physics and math, will also be a member of the 2015-16 team, to be captained by Sprouls, designing a new boat.

“We’ll start with a blank slate,” Sprouls said. “Hopefully, it will be as nice as this one.”

This year’s MTSU entry was a modified version of the boat that competed in 2014.

Other team members included Matthew Ham, Michael Raymond, Melissa Sanders, Brian Reyes, Rizwan Syed, Robert Johnson and Zach Hunter. Rick Taylor and graduate students Cary Woodson and Jeremy Posey served as advisers.

The MTSU Experimental Vehicles Program is housed in the Department of Engineering Technology, one of 11 departments in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

For more information about the program, call 615-494-8786 or email Foroudastan at

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