“The SUNY New Paltz solar car team once again put the Hudson Valley on the map when it comes to solar energy research and development.”
-Congressman Maurice Hinchey.
Maybe it's because he is an alumnus of New Paltz or maybe it's because of his test ride in a student-built electric car last May, but Congressman Maurice Hinchey ‘68, ‘70g has become one of the biggest supporters of the SUNY-Hawk Solar Car racing project since it began two years ago.
Proving that he is one of their strongest advocates, Congressman Hinchey announced last month that the solar car program would be receiving $100,000 from a larger $2.5 million federal allocation to The Solar Energy Consortium, a not-for-profit center of photovoltaic innovation directed by New Paltz alumnus Vince Cozzolino and former Dean of the School of Science and Engineering, Dr. John Harrington.
“We knew the money was a possibility,” said Ben Rounds (‘11; electrical engineering), the crew chief for the solar car team, “but when Congressman Hinchey made the announcement it was certainly a welcomed and exciting surprise.”
The funding will be used to enhance the School of Science and Engineering’s solar car racing project which, on a shoestring budget, placed sixth out of the 11 teams competing in their first event – the Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, Texas this past June.
Rounds said that the Congressman’s support will help with their continued efforts to raise more money and, most importantly, allow them to build, tweak and test drive their car before entering it in their next competition – The American Solar Challenge, an eight day, 1,200-mile, open-road event from Tulsa, Okla., to Chicago, Ill., beginning on June 20, 2010.
“In Texas, we had never even driven the car before the race,” said Rounds with a smile. “So now we will be able to work on the car sooner and get it fine-tuned before the race.”
Led by faculty adviser Mike Otis, professor of electrical engineering, and sponsored by The Solar Energy Consortium, the SUNY Hawk race team consists of 15 to 20 students from different majors across campus.