ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – University of New Mexico students were the underdogs in an unusual national competition. But they caused quite a splash, when they took home awards for their solar-powered boat.
“There were 13 teams that showed up with boats,” said Former UNM Student, Griffin Cearley.
The competition called ‘Solar Splash’ brought universities from all over to Ohio. It’s considered the World Championship of solar electric boating.
“It was not just a build project,” said the students’ faculty advisor, Peter Vorobieff. “It was a full design project.”
While most schools spent years designing or tweaking their boats powered entirely by the sun, mechanical engineering students from UNM raised enough money to compete last minute. It gave them only a semester to design and build their boat.
“Size limitations, and battery weight limitations, and things that make it a challenging project,” said Cearley.
After competing in three different events with their boat, they did better than any other rookie team. They also placed 4th overall, beating most of the veteran teams too.
“I was just so happy,” said Former UNM Student, Lucca Henrion. “I mean it’s just such a huge accomplishment for a team that has been working on this not as long as the other rookie teams even.”
They’re now hoping to come back next year, not as underdogs, but as a team to look out for.
“If you put your mind to something and work really hard, you can achieve it and I think with the right support, we’ve been able to do that,” said Henrion.
UNM also won another special award at the competition, “Best Sportsmanship.”