NUsolar’s car, sc5, qualified to race in the week long American Solar Challenge.

Thirty undergraduate students at Northwestern University have built and designed a car fueled only from the sun, named sc5, showing that solar energy is currently a viable technology. The student team, NUsolar, is competing this week in the American Solar Challenge, racing more than 1,000 miles across the country.

The team, composed of 16 Northwestern students, one faculty adviser, two support vehicles and one solar car, competed in the qualifying rounds for the American Solar Challenge on June 10 in Texas.

Afterward NUsolar traveled to Tulsa, Okla. to compete in the American Solar Challenge. In this competition, cars travel a set distance each day for seven days. Individual times are then recorded and added up throughout the seven days of racing, resulting in the best total time to win.

Throughout the race, four drivers from each team take turns driving their cars hundreds of miles every day. Teams are faced with the challenge of analyzing the stream of data received from the car, strategy and determining optimal speed, mechanical and electrical troubleshooting and keeping an eye on the weather. The team’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the World Solar Challenge 2015 in Australia.