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Model Solar Car Design Guide - Project Management

This item is not at the top of the list by accident. You can have the best resources and car design in the world but poor or no management of the project will assure failure. Following are some critical items to consider.

  • Define the project:
    Exactly what is involved in the total project.
  • Feasibility study:
    Have you got or can you get whatever is required to successfully complete the project. Some of the things to consider are listed below.
    • Time
    • Funding
    • Equipment
    • Skills
    • Sufficient personnel
    • Materials for construction

If you cannot say yes to the above it is time to stop.

  • Time line:
    Produce a timetable detailing the start date finish date and duration of every section of the project. Work backwards from the event date to ensure completion in time. Note, in many instances activities can overlap, for example car construction can be progressing before all materials are available. Some of the things to consider are listed below.
    • Car design
    • Material & equipment procurement
    • Manufacture of car
    • Testing & modifications as required
    • Poster
  • Detail car design:
    This area is critically important. It is imperative you know exactly what you are going to build and what materials you need.

    Do produce drawings and sketches of components and an overall assembly drawing of the car and draw it to scale. Many hours of work and much material is wasted remaking components that did not initially fit into the car as intended. All because it was not clear exactly what the components were to look like and the actual dimensions required to assemble into the complete car.

    Firstly I suggest looking at photographs and video of cars at previous events, then check the various State solar car web sites for additional data and ideas.

    Some of the sub assemblies / design areas to consider are listed below.
    • Overall dimensions
    • Wheel details, number and placement, drive wheel?
    • Motor Electronics
    • Solar panel
    • Guiding, placement & dimensions of guides
    • Gears
    • Track clearances
    • General conformance to regulations
    • Body shape (aerodynamics) & material
  • Materials & equipment procurement:
    Be certain to order and obtain any materials or items needed for your construction in plenty of time, so they will be available for use when you need them. As an example Faulhaber motors are in limited production in only one factory in Europe. Quantities held here in Australia are limited. Should the local stocks be exhausted in about May it could be late August or early September before more motors are available. The reason is simple the factory in Europe closes down for summer vacation over the June / July time span, if there are no stocks of this motor on the shelf in the factory we must wait for a run of these motors to be scheduled down their production line.
  • Decisions & action:
    Regularly review your position and make decisions and take action as required to maintain progress.
  • HELP !!!!
    Remember the Model Solar Vehicle Committee here in Victoria run workshops from time to time. However technical advice is always available, contact the committee chair at the email address on the regulations.

Box Hill High School have an active Model Solar Car programme and are willing to provide assistance to other schools or students. They have a test track which is erected from time to time particularly near the event date. Any students are welcome to come and make use of the track at these times. 


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