Solar Car Racing Goes Blue

By Dora Smith

Student engineers used NX software from Siemens PLM Software to design this solar car
University of Michigan’s Generation solar car in the Australian outback

In just two days, the University of Michigan solar car team will begin their race in the World Solar Challenge from Darwin to Adelaide, Australia (3,000 km). You don’t have to be an engineer or a U-M grad to get excited about this race or the design and engineering in their new car.

I met the team this past July. It was quite impressive to see their garage. I worked a number of jobs in college but none of them included managing a million dollar budget on a race car. These students seemed less like “college kids” and more like young entrepreneurs pursuing a dream.

Last week Digital Manufacturing Report shared this story: Michigan Racing Team Looks to Siemens for World Solar Challenge. They interviewed student engineer Garrett Simard who was behind the team’s switch to NX for the new design. The article noted:
…the change was largely the result of the university’s shift to teaching NX within the classroom, but he noted that his team’s mechanical lead suggested NX from the start because of its power, ease of creating sophisticated assemblies and overall suitability to the race’s demands.

Here’s a rendered picture of the car:

University of Michigan used NX software to design this solar car

U-M student engineer Pavan Naik wrote a guest blog post for Design News: Siemens Helps Student Engineers Race in the Outback. In it he notes:
“Because of the new design change, we placed a large emphasis on our aerobody design. Siemens NX software allowed us to continue making changes to our aerobody while designing mechanical parts for the car. Because both our mechanical division and our aero division were using NX, we were able to design each system simultaneously and easily transfer designs between each group.”

Pavan also noted in our press release – North America’s Most Successful Solar Car Team Turns to Siemens to Pursue World Title:
“Siemens’ PLM software helped us with the rapid decision making needed in solar car development and should help maximize our chance to cross the finish line first in Australia. We are proud to leverage the same product development technology used by so many leading automotive companies.”

To track the team over the two week race, stay tuned to U-M Solar Car’s live feed:

And keep tracking these students. As Bill Boswell noted in Design News (World Solar Car Challenge & STEM Education):
“If you’re a manufacturer, I’m letting you know where you can find your next generation of employees. Wouldn’t you want to hire people with this kind of experience? Good luck to the team. Go Blue.”

Stay tuned next week for more of this story.

– Dora

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