Michigan Solar Car team wins eighth national championship

By Dora Smith

UM-Wins-HomepageThis Monday, the University of Michigan (U-M) Solar Car completed a seven-day, 1722-mile race to win the 2014 American Solar Challenge. This is the eighth time that the University of Michigan has won the national championship. The team uses Siemens PLM Software to design, analyze and build their solar vehicles.

U-M beat second-place University of Minnesota by three hours and 52 minutes and third-place Iowa State by eight hours and 51 minutes. Principia College, another team leveraging Siemens PLM Software, came in fifth place, 12 hours and three minutes off the pace.

The cross-country race started in Austin, Texas with stage stops in Norman, Oklahoma; Kansas City, Missouri; Omaha, Nebraska; and La Crosse, Wisconsin, before completion in Minneapolis. Twenty-three teams entered the challenge and 17 cars qualified to race. Yet only 10 were able to start and just six teams completed the full 1722 miles of the Challenge.Blog2_ASC_2

“This is a huge win for our team,” said Pavan Naik, Michigan Solar Car project manager, “not only because it’s our fifth straight national championship, but also because of the real racing experience it gave our team members. And it’s a powerful testament to the value of Siemens PLM Software. As we start on our quest to win the World Solar Challenge in 2015, we’ll be leveraging a full complement of PLM solutions.”


Pavan explained that the team will now spend the next year designing, testing and building a four-wheel car to compete in the 2015 World Solar Challenge in the Australian Outback. U-M has recorded a number of third-place finishes against global competition, but has yet to score a victory. For the past two years, U-M has only used NX product engineering software in the development of their cars. This year, they’ll be leveraging Teamcenter for process management, Fibersim for composite engineering, and LMS for simulation and testing.

Shortly, we’ll have a documentary on the race, as a follow-up to the “Michigan Solar Car Quest” trailer, which you can view here.

– Dora

Special thanks to my colleages Ryan Ragle and Pete Tiernan for following the race, the team and providing these updates.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at