In May, a diverse crew of Skyline College Engineering and STEM Students will be embarking on the open waters in the Annual Sacramento Municipality Utility District (SMUD) Solar Regatta. On May 5, 2018 the team will venture to the Rancho Seco Recreational Area and compete in races against different schools of Northern California such as UC Davis, CCSF, and SJSU, to name a few.

In their spare time, the students have been participating in the Skyline Engineering and Robotics Club (ERC) where they are using Fabrication Equipment and utilizing the knowledge learned from their courses to construct an operating Solar Boat!

The competition is split into three sections where the overall design, maneuverability, and efficiency of the boat’s performance will be tested. Artistic appearance and team spirit will also be judged. The ultimate challenge will be the three races, which the boat and the ‘skipper’ have to perform. There will be a speed race, a slalom race, and an endurance race, in which the boat will run only on battery to test the design efficiency.

Skyline College has competed before, but never have they fully designed and manufactured a boat from raw construction materials. The work on the boat is entirely voluntarily and happens in the Skyline College Fab Lab. Students are learning the process of building a large and complex structure as a team.

A key element to this competition is sustainability; due to limited resources the students have to improvise and work with the materials that they have at hand. Following the team’s mission, “Building green, living clean,” the energy for the propulsion will be provided by two Solar panels, donated by SMUD. Together the students are improving their problem solving skills, tackling the constraints of a limited budget, materials, and time, which are all talents to help them transition from their academics to career.

Our team consists of ten Engineering and STEM students who have been working diligently since last fall on the boat. They have developed a CAD (Computer Aided Design) model based on an internet publication of a catamaran design. With this model, they designed the parts and toolpaths, which were then cut out of plywood with the Fab Lab Shopbot, a big CNC router. Those pieces were then assembled using a process called ’stitch and glue’, where one uses wire to stitch the boat panels together, and glues them with epoxy. The next step in the manufacturing will be the application of the composites on the outer hull to make the boat water proof.

The learning fields of the boat include wood crafting, composite layering, electronic circuity, assembly and sustainability. If you are interested in watching the process or joining the team, stop by at the Fab Lab in Building 7 (room 7-310)! The team meets every Friday at 2:00 p.m. For more information contact the team leader Mikaela Quintos or the advisor Marco Wehrfritz

Article by Marco Wehrfritz, Mikaela Quintosm and Maryam Khan

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