Christmas In September

Yeah, it’s a cliche, but we’re not talking about Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas decorations on store shelves before the summer even ends.

It’s a fact of life that design team students must project their manufacturing/material needs many months in advance. Stealing a line from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” students are “making their list and checking it twice” to get the materials on hand when needed.

Design teams aren’t funded by the university, they’re “assisted.” They can’t simply buy what they need (blank check? Fuggedaboutit!) unless they’ve found the cash, and that’s a tough process. A better idea is to establish long-term sponsor relationships with people who have a stake in S&T’s experiential learning programs.

A top “stakeholder” is Chuck Miller of Coastal Enterprises, manufacturer of high density urethane (HDU) boards. Coastal’s HDU boards are used dimensional signage, model making, marine applications and a variety of tooling applications from solar car forms to robot shrouds. Chuck’s crew not only ships pallet-upon-pallet of this high-dollar material freeto Rolla each year, they also follow the progress of many S&T design teams. They’re proud to trumpet our Human-Powered Vehicle’s progress in a California event, and Chuck even drove down to Irvine, California to meet the Miners’ Solar House Team last fall.

The Human Powered Vehicle Team first “negotiated” the Coastal relationship. The “negotiations” had but one contractual term, pay-it-forward ;pass on to others the good that has been done to you. Now the Mars Rover, Formula SAE, Solar Car, and Robotics Competition teams all share in the largesse, and any excess gets hauled to competition and shared with other universities.

That’s a life-long lesson that you don’t find in a textbook.

If you’ll excuse us we have to email Chuck with our HDU needs for the 2014-2015 season.

THANKS, Chuck (and Amy, Brad, Don and Krystle)!



Opening Week at Missouri S&T means over a thousand wide-eyed freshmen running hither and yon, moving into dorms and having fun in everything from parties to academic workshops, Project X to a pig roast, all under the loving and watchful eyes of … [Continue reading]

Solar Miner VIII Rallies, Takes 7th


The American Solar Challenge, the biennial road/highway endurance test for cars and teams alike, wrapped up today at the University of Minnesota campus. Solar car racing events, whether the annual track race or the biennial road journey, are … [Continue reading]

40 Laps. 137 Miles. Under Full Cloud Cover


Not bad, not bad at all! A near-faultless drive by Devin Valamores and Austin Homesly, and a very dependable car that vanquished The Hill. The entertainment was on the straightaway and The Hill. Everywhere else it was "slow and steady" to … [Continue reading]

The Little Red Solar Car That (Finally) Could!


Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville is the underdog, the team everyone is pulling for. Rumor is they use an old motor that makes a heckuva racket, but that just doesn't have the "oomph!" They've attacked The Hill over and cover again to no … [Continue reading]

It’s Good To Be Back!


Hill? What hill? Solar Miner VIII took the hill from hell as if it wasn't even there. No 200-yard running start, no hesitating, no fear, just boys-will-be-boys pedal to the carbon fiber and jaws dropped all over the paddock. #42 has been … [Continue reading]

At Dawn They Ride!


If the damned rain ever quits………….. … [Continue reading]

The Hill Of Death Eats Solar Cars

Hill of deathDSC_0149

Problem #1: Straight out of the pits is the Mt Everest of solar car racing. The Hill. Most teams entering the track have to go in the opposite direction, turn around, and get a 200-yard running start to have a good chance of making it to turn #1. … [Continue reading]

S&T Clears Dynamics Test/What’s A Few Cones Among Friends?


The Solar Miners squeezed through scrutineering with some difficulties, but got high enough marks to reach the dynamics (wet braking, figure eight, slalom and U-turn radius) events. Drivers Austin Holmsley and Devin Valmores each had a crack at … [Continue reading]

Letha And The Beetle


It's not always about the car. Sometimes it's the little side stories that add the human spice, memories that will bring a smile years from now. Letha Young, Honorary Knight of St Patrick, has long been the Team Mom, student herder, fire … [Continue reading]