World Solar Challenge – Sonnenwagen Aachen e.V.Copyright: Christian Offermanns
The World Solar Challenge is considered to be the most challenging race for solar-powered vehicles worldwide, taking participating teams on a 3000-kilometer journey in the Australian outback from Darwin to Adelaide. The aim of the competition is to support and showcase student-led research and development in the field of solar vehicles and visibly promote sustainable mobility.
The competition takes place every two years, organized by the South Australian Tourism Commission and the Australian government. Furthermore, it receives support from its long-standing sponsor Bridgestone. The international teams receive support from their own sponsors and thus boast up to 7-figure budgets.
The Sonnenwagen Aachen e.V. association was established in 2015 by a group of RWTH student and is registered as an RWTH student organization.
The goal of our association is to make the most of the potential of electric mobility by developing a solar-driven vehicle. By participating in the World Solar Challenge we want to demonstrate the potential of innovative sustainable technologies to the wider public. Furthermore, as a German team in the challenger class we also want to represent Germany and, in particular, RWTH Aachen University, in an international competition with competitors from other top universities such as MIT, Stanford, and TU Delft.
Sonnenwagen Aachen is to be established as a long-term institution at the University. We are continually recruiting new members, have developed a new project and financial plan, and are currently negotiating with potential sponsors. In this way we are positive that students will continue to be able to apply their newly gained expertise in a hands-on project.
Moreover, at Sonnenwagen Aachen, students gain important experience for their later careers, developing transferable skills such as team work as well as organization and marketing skills. Technological innovations resulting from our work are to be exploited in collaboration with our partner institutes and companies. Another option is the establishment of spin-off companies to bring innovations to market.
As a young association, we had to tackle bigger problems than most of the more established racing teams from other universities. We had difficulties convincing investors of the great potential of our project, and as we did not have a history of participation in races and success stories, it was difficult to get media coverage and reach a wider audience. For these reasons, support from our sponsors and from RWTH and its institutes was essential.
The Sonnenwagen project receives support from the Quality Improvement Fund.