Skyline Solar Boat Team 2022: Logan Chan, Marlon Villalobos, Thomas Toy, Ned Bitar, Paul-Frederik Schubert, Madeleine McSwain, Valeria Zarco, Emma Mayoral, (not pictured) Jonathan Mariano-Smith

For the 4th time, the Skyline College Solar Boat Team joins the SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District)  California Solar Regatta competition held on May 13, 2022 at Rancho Seco recreational area in Herald, CA. It was the 9th time this state-wide event took place and the first time after the pandemic.

Due to safety restrictions, the number of teams was limited to 10 by SMUD, down from more than 20. Even so, everyone was happy to be back in person after waiting two years.

It was a nice, warm, and sunny day at Rancho Seco Lake. The lake is the old emergency cooling pond of the former nuclear power plant on the site, of which buildings are still standing. The main reactor building and the twin cooling towers can still be seen over the lake, making a scenic background to the competition.

The group photo is of our nine participating student team members, their red shirts matching their overhauled solar boat, who were eager to compete against other schools. Because of the pandemic, it was the first time for all of them to participate in the race. Some of these students will be returning next year to support and lead next year’s team. We hope to gain more traction to better prepare for next year’s race.

It turned out the strongest adversary wasn’t one of the other boats; it was the gusty winds which blew over the lake from time to time. The motor of the boat wasn’t able to fight against this natural hurdle. After a couple races, Skyline’s boat suffered an electronic failure and the team’s boat had to be towed off the lake. This was not unusual, with many of the other teams struggling with wind and equipment technicalities in their first race after the long downtime due to the pandemic.

Overall, it was a great experience and everyone enjoyed the supportive and collaborative atmosphere among the participants and the organizer of SMUD. Students were able to communicate and connect with other students at different schools, problem solve, and learn from each other’s boat builds. Thank you SMUD, for hosting such a great event again and giving students a great learning experience!

The club would like to extend a big thank you to Marco Wehrfritz (Physics) for supporting the team throughout the process, Dr. Susanne Schubert (Chemistry) for coming and cheering the team, and Dr. Emilie Hein (Physics, MESA) and Dr. Nick Kapp (Biology) for driving the students and equipment to Rancho Seco on Friday night, providing logistics for the overnight stay, camping with the team till the dawn of the race, and driving them safely back to Skyline!

To get involved or for more information, contact Engineering and Robotics Club (ERC) advisor, Marco Wehrfritz (

Article by Marco Wehrfritz, Nick Kapp, and Kaileiani Louie | Photo by Susanne Schubert




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