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Appalachian’s Team Sunergy travels to World Solar Challenge in Australia to advise Chilean team

By Elisabeth Wall

BOONE, N.C.—Appalachian State University’s Team Sunergy is in Australia, assisting Chilean solar vehicle Team Antakari as its races nearly 2,000 miles from Darwin to Adelaide, Australia for the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC).

View larger imageTeam Sunergy departed for the World Solar Challenge in Australia on Sept. 29. Pictured are junior Kali Smith of Connelly Springs, the team’s operations director; Director of Sustainability Lee F. Ball, the team’s faculty advisor; graduate student Dan Blakeley of Olympia, Washington, the team’s leader and project director; and sophomore Wyatt Bailey of Burlington, the team’s assistant mechanical director. Photo by Troy Tuttle

Members of Appalachian’s solar vehicle team left Boone Friday, Sept. 29, for more than two weeks Down Under. They will advise the Chilean team on electrical engineering challenges while also learning about the race, in which Team Sunergy hopes to compete in 2019.

Graduate student and Team Sunergy project director and leader Dan Blakeley said the Chilean team reached out to Appalachian’s solar vehicle team because of its stellar performance in U.S. races over the past two years, and specifically because of its expertise in electrical engineering.

The BWSC has become widely recognized as the world’s foremost innovation challenge. Teams from around the world develop cutting-edge technology and test it under rigorous conditions, with a goal of advancing marketable, solar-powered electric vehicle technology.

This year marks the event’s 14th crossing of Australia and the 30-year anniversary.

Appalachian’s director of sustainability, Dr. Lee Ball, said Team Sunergy plans to take a cruiser class vehicle to BWSC in two years. “This will give us a chance to do a bit of recon – to learn how the race works and traverse the course. And, we can share with our Chilean partners what we’ve learned from participating in the Formula Sun Grand Prix and the American Solar Challenge,” he said.

Traveling with Ball are Blakeley, who is from Olympia, Washington, and his fellow Team Sunergy leaders: Operations Director Kali Smith, a junior from Connelly Springs; Assistant Electric Director Cristian Gulisano, a senior from Chapel Hill; and Assistant Mechanical Director Wyatt Bailey, a sophomore from Burlington.

About the BWSC

The BWSC begins in Darwin, Australia on Sunday, Oct. 8, and finishes Oct. 15. In the week preceding the event, teams must pass “scrutineering,” a grueling series of practical safety and compliance tests to qualify for the start line. The final qualifying activities are the time trials at Hidden Valley on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Once the teams leave Darwin, they must travel as far as possible each day until 5 p.m. when they make camp. All teams must be fully self-sufficient.

During the journey, there are seven mandatory check points where observers change and team managers get updates on the weather and their position in the field. At checkpoints, teams may also perform basic maintenance. Learn more at

About Team Sunergy

Team Sunergy is Appalachian State University’s interdisciplinary team of undergraduate and graduate students transforming solar-powered transportation. Its solar car Apperion gained national attention with top-three finishes in the 2016 and 2017 Formula Sun Grand Prix, an international collegiate endurance competition that sets the standards for and tests the limits of solar vehicle technology. Team Sunergy brings together students from a variety of majors who have a passion for sustainable transportation and the ingenuity, innovation and drive to create it.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.


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