The SolarCar project by the Bochum University of Applied Sciences exists for more than 15 years and takes a special and unique place in the academic landscape. With more than 60 members, it is one of the biggest solarcar teams on earth. Despite its long history, it remains a completely student driven project - managed by students and consisting of several sub teams, with the goal to build an energy efficient solar car suitable for everyday life.
Each project cycle takes two years and is divided in different phases. During these stages the team gradually develops all necessary steps to build a unique car. Starting with the first ideas for the new car, the team continues with the integration of new members and the development of parts. Following the final completion of the production, the car is presented to the publicity at the „Rollout“.
To coordinate the tasks, the members have weekly team meetings, where they also discuss occurring problems. The highlight of each cycle is the World Solar Challenge that takes place in Australia.
Problem based learning is the key principle in the project, paying great attention to the progress and learning curve of each individual student. They are gradually trusted with more responsibility and hence develop their problem-solving skills.
Every interested student can take part in the project; however the successful completion of the main courses is recommended. The optional seminar „Development of Solar Powered Vehicles“ is a firm component of the educational programme of the Bochum University of Applied Sciences.
At the end of the nineties a small student group from Bochum laid the foundation for the SolarCar project: They made a semester abroad in England, and built a solar car, the Mad Dog III, at the London South Bank University. Filled with the enthusiasm they had experienced during the development of the car and the World Solar Challenge (WSC) in Australia , they established a similar project in Bochum with the help of their Mentor Prof. Friedbert Pautzke (Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science).