Racing the Sun: Building Florida's 1st 4-Seater Solar Car for a Cross-Country Challenge as a Vehicle for Educational Transformation

The Cane Institute at FAU High School aims to transform STEM education through solving real world problems.

Photo of Maria Castro-Videla
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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education
  • Technology
  • Environment

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

November 21st, 2002

Help us stay in touch!

Florida: Boynton Beach (33437) (561) 502-0370

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: aev.fauhigh

Date You Started Your Project Started

August 19th, 2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Reduce public complacency regarding the acceptance of innovative methods of transportation–namely electric and solar vehicles–in order to reduce carbon emissions & slow the progression of global warming.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

By creating a technology demonstrator vehicle, The Cane Institute at FAU High School intends to dispel the stigma associated with solar power and other advanced technologies; especially considering our position as high-school students, we hope to prove that utilizing innovative technologies, techniques, and workflows is not restricted to professionals. This project will bring solar power into a realm where it can be worked upon in a hands-on manner rather than just research on paper.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

At the Cane Institute, we have always strived to innovate and create better solutions. After pursuing our goal of building an all electric super-car, we were looking for another ambitious project. That is when we realized solar cars were not entirely out of the realm of possibility. In a world where thermal runaway and carbon emissions seem to be an impending threat, we are convinced that solar cars are the new frontier. From this realization the solar car project was born, out of a combination of both inspiration and determination.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

When a person or group gets involved with our project they are invited to think creatively and share their ideas so that they may become a reality. We’ve tried to provide many means of communication to make sure that nobody is left out of the conversation since we understand that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Thanks to the multidisciplinary nature of the solar car project, we attempt to assign tasks relevant to the career ambitions specific to our members, in addition to having them work on things outside of their comfort zone. We do this in order to broaden the scope of their skills. Overall, we strive to ensure a caring and innovative team mindset.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Our project is different from others because it is completely student driven. We have learned important leadership skills like task delegation and accountability that apply directly to real-world professions. Our work in the Cane Institute Lab is unprecedented when compared to other student-led projects. The FAU HS GT-EV is another example of a student-led project that was successful. This concept of student leadership and extreme dedication works and give students a different kind of experience in their field of choice. All while inspiring the next generation of engineers.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Recently, the Cane Institute STEM programs have mainly had the same participants throughout each generation of students that come through the school. However, we have noticed that our Solar Car initiative has brought in people from different educational backgrounds and interests that normally wouldn’t participate. We hope that this will broaden the diversity of the team to get new perspectives on projects and allow more students to develop skills in the STEM fields. We know this is possible as recently, three girls who were majoring in Biology wanted to compete in Seaperch, an underwater robotics competition, and were able to win first place in Engineering design through the mentorship of fellow students who have competed in the Cane Institute.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We look forward to completing the solar car in a manner that complies with not only the rules for the Solar Car challenge but also the rules for more challenging competitions like the Australian Solar Cup. This leaves us the ability to diversify the competitions we enter in the future. W Furthermore, we’ve worked to partner with other Universities as we know from experience that collaboration with people with different expertise can make all the difference. For example, we reached out to the MIT solar car program and toured their facilities. They also offered to donate designs for a Solar Car shell to help get us started in changing the world. We plan on making more connections and partnerships like this in the future.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Web/Mobile Development


10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k
  • Donations between $1k-$5k
  • Donations over $10k

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)
  • Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian) (7)
  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)
  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
  • Middle Eastern or North African (for example: Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian) (11)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income community
  • LGBTQ community
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • T-Mobile page or contact
  • Ashoka page or contact
  • Article in the news

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Power96 Radio Station

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 33.3%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 100%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

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