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Solar Splash 2018 needs your support

December 1, 2017 - By Kim Delker

Design experience. Teamwork. Fundraising. Problem-solving. Interaction with industry. Travel. International competition.

Boat 1These are just a few of the benefits enjoyed by members of the UNM Solar Splash team. This unique, hands-on capstone design project teaches our students so much about real engineering, but this year it is in jeopardy due to lack of funds.

The team is scheduled to begin purchasing materials for designing and constructing their solar-powered boat soon in preparation for the international intercollegiate solar/electric boat regatta that takes place June 5-9, 2018, in Springfield, Ohio. However, the team needs around $25,000 to make sure this can happen.

Funds are needed for various aspects of the project, from acquiring the solar array to upgrading the drivetrain to transporting the boat — and the student team — across the country for the contest. The team has benefited from industry and individual support in the past, but substantial and sustaining support is now needed.

Peter Vorobieff, a professor of mechanical engineering and one of the faculty advisors to the project, said what students get out of this is more than just winning.

“The students learn a lot, and while it is competitive, it’s a friendly competition where teams share their knowledge and help each other out,” he said. “The competition score is important, but it can’t quantify what the students get out of something like this.”

The team is made up of students in both the mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering departments at UNM.

This is the third year the UNM will compete in the contest. As a rookie team in 2016, they placed fourth overall, second place in slalom, and were the highest-scoring rookie team. Last year, they won the Outstanding Solar System Design Award.

To make a donation, go to or contact Courtney Holmes at (505) 277-0664 or