International Institute of Sustainable Transportation

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Solar Skyways Challenge

The Solar Skyways Challenge, a $10,000 dollar prize for providing valuable research to create a future solar based mobility system, presents a unique opportunity for select university students to gain industry experience while raising the bar for sustainable transportation.

Students are required to create multidisciplinary teams to design, build and improve solar-powered, personalized, Automated Transit Networks (ATN's) and their vehicles (podcars). Students will receive support and access to extensive experience and expertise in solar technology and sustainable transportation from INIST. Selected members of the best performing teams will be invited to present their projects and receive their grants at the award ceremony of the annual international Podcar conference, Podcar City 7, in the fall of 2013 in Washington, DC.

Projects have been divided into four components to aid in identifying potential team members. The project components are: technical, civic, artistic, and societal. Teams will chose which of the components to focus on, however all components must, to some extent, be addressed.

Examples of possible components are:

Technical - Making a scaled working prototype while being mindful of energy efficiency.

Civic - Work with people from your city planning department or another public office to research the potential benefits and challenges of a podcar network in your city.

Artistic - Portray a podcar or podcar network with an emphasis on visual appeal and realism.

Societal - Organize an event where students and community can learn about and discuss podcars. Gather opinions and findings during the event.

Teams will have a project focus and may include more members from one discipline than another.

Team members can contribute to the project on an advanced or entry level, meaning the level of contribution can differ between team members. Teams are required to have a minimum of three core members contributing at an advanced level. In addition to the core group, teams will need to identify members who can make entry level contributions addressing the various components. Some examples of advanced and limited contributions are:

Advanced - Focusing on the technical and societal components of a large scale podcar network by building multiple layouts which contribute to significant efficiency gains, while simultaneously initiating a dialog with other team members who are conducting a poll to determine what information about podcars is most effective in influencing public opinion.

Limited - Designing and implementing a painting scheme for the podcars and track.

Limited - Creating a survey and using it to poll public opinion about various aspects of podcars in your city.

Team success is not judged solely on completing a working design. Team performance will also be judged on visual appeal, public input, energy efficiency, city input, and any other components that advance the scope of realism in the project. It is important to remember that for a transportation system to be implemented in a city it must be well received by the public and governing city agencies.

Professors are encouraged to incorporate the Solar Skyways Challenge in their university curriculum, thereby allowing students to satisfy educational requirements while gaining green industry experience.

The goal of the Solar Skyways Challenge is to help cities move towards a more sustainable future while empowering students to take an active part in designing the infrastructure of the cities in which they live. INIST will help students establish entitlements and work with Bay Area cities in conjunction with students and professors to lay the groundwork for the implementation of solar-powered ATN's.