team member

Members of UT’s Solar Vehicle Team, from left, Konrad Werzner, Ji Seon, Ross Miglin and Angus Ranson, stand with the TexSun, a solar-powered car built to participate in cross-country and track races. For the team, the challenge of building such a unique car gave them a chance to collaborate and be creative.
Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

A group of students is building a solar-powered car that can function, drive and even race — all while creating minimal waste.

Each school year, UT’s Solar Vehicle Team builds solar-powered cars to race in both cross-country and track competitions. This year, the group is improving their current car, the TexSun, and working on an entirely new vehicle.

According to Cynthia Luu, electrical engineering junior and team president, the club tends to attract engineers, but it is open to students of all disciplines. Despite focusing her studies on electrical engineering, Luu said she started out on the team by working on the body of the car. 

Ross Miglin, mechanical engineering freshman and team member, said the group adopts a trial-by-fire approach to learning the ropes. 

“I crawled under the body of the vehicle and stared at the wheel for 30 minutes,” Miglin said. “Eventually, through asking a lot of questions, I figured it out.”

Much of the work on the car is done independently by different subgroups within the team. Luu said the teams develop each aspect of the car from scratch.

Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

For Alejandro Silveyra, electrical engineering junior and team member, the collaboration among the subgroups drastically enriches the process.

“The biggest reward is [learning] how to work well with teams,” Silveyra said. “It’s not possible to know everything about the project by yourself. You have to start trusting others and know that they can make their own decisions.”

Although creating a car from scratch requires a lot of foresight. Sliveyra said exhaustive planning doesn’t hold the team back.

“I’m not saying planning is not important,” Silveyra said. “The actual point is to create something. It’s a really laid back team, but we get stuff done.”

Despite the varied aspects of production, Angus Ranson, electrical engineering senior and team member, said the common goal of creating a functioning solar-powered car unites the team.

“For each individual, their reason for making the car is different,” Ranson said. “Each individual’s reason that they’re doing it is collectively ours.”

The members agreed that the team’s focus sets it apart. While solar-powered vehicles present many challenges, they present exciting new opportunities, according to Silveyra. 

“We’re in an area that no companies are trying to figure out,” Silveyra said. “It’s not viable at the moment, it’s too expensive, and it doesn’t make sense. I think, while [we are] having fun racing cars, we’re creating an idea that could be used later.”

Solar-powered cars are still not considered mainstream vehicles. No major car company has ever released a vehicle that runs entirely on solar power.

Nevertheless, Miglin said he is confident in the future of solar-powered cars.

“My goal in the future is to pick up a girl for a date in a fully solar car,” he said. “It’s going to happen someday.”

Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Alan Bean, alumnus and Apollo 12 astronaut, discussed his experience in space while on campus to present a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

Alan Bean, a former Apollo astronaut and UT alumnus, visited campus Tuesday to present a scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and talk about the knowledge he gained from being a NASA astronaut.  

Sai Gourisankar, a Plan II and chemical engineering senior, was selected to receive the $10,000 scholarship. Gourisanker is focusing his collaborative research on nanotechnology for biomedical therapy and imaging used to detect and treat cancer. 

Bean said Gourisankar should be proud of his research and individuality.

“It is amazing what this young man has accomplished,” Bean said. “We need people like you, Sai. We need these people for the future of this country and for the future of human beings on earth.”  

Bean, who flew on the Apollo 12 mission, said he thinks it is important for people to pursue their dreams — despite opposition from others

“One of the things I’ve noticed in my life is it’s hard to hold onto your dream because your parents and other people don’t have the same dream, and they don’t necessarily see your dream as worthy,” Bean said. “You have got to hold on to what feels good to you.” 

According to Bean, the ability to cooperate with others is necessary for someone who wants to be a good team member. 

Beans said during his  training he disagreed with a flight engineer’s approach to delivering information and questioned whether the engineer was a good team member because of it. A fellow astronaut, Charles Conrad, said he was too quick to pass judgement and made Bean realize that he might have been the bad team member for not appreciating everyone’s perspective.    

Bean said if anyone wants to be influential in prompting a positive change, they should push to influence others through respect and good deeds every day. 

“If you want to be a special person, you have to start thinking of ways to be special,” Bean said.  “If we want to be special, we have to be proactive about it. People are waiting around for life to give us an opportunity to be special. … Forget it.”

In closing, Bean said people often fail to recognize their full potential. 

“The only thing in the universe that we know of that’s not limited as to where it’s going to be in the future, are human beings — just like us,” Bean said. “We may be small on a cosmic scale, but we have been given this great gift of unlimited potential.” 

Tammy Knowles, executive director of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, said Bean’s lecture gave her hope for future generations. 

“I’m [now] even more hopeful for America and for the students that we have coming up that are going to find the cures that we need,” Knowles said. “Not only to take us to space and beyond … but also [for] all the other innovations that are going to come out … across the country.” 

After the Longhorns were routed 41-7 by BYU, Strong and senior cornerback Quandre Diggs have noticed that some players are still not buying into Strong’s message.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

After taking care of business in the season opener against North Texas, the Longhorns were routed by BYU for the second consecutive season. Now, with three matchups against top-15 teams, Texas wants the full effort of every team member to get back on track.  

The same Texas team that took the field against BYU will play in Arlington against No. 12 UCLA this week, barring any last minute changes to the suspensions of four Longhorns, all of whom are potential starters. Head coach Charlie Strong noted, while most of his team has bought into the core values of his new program, those serving suspensions still seem not to get the message.

“Well, when you look at it, you have 95 percent of your team doing it the right way,” Strong said. “And then you have 5 percent, and you say to that 5 percent, ‘Why can’t you do what Malcolm Brown does? Why can’t you do what Johnathan Gray does? Why can’t you buy in?’”

Strong believes the suspended players could help the team on the field if active, but, at the same time, those players haven’t earned the privilege to contribute on game days.

“You get frustrated because you look at a talented group of players that you have to suspend that could really be helping this football team,” Strong said. “But who knows if they can be? Because they can’t even do the little things we ask them to do.”

Senior cornerback Quandre Diggs agrees that those who can’t follow coach Strong’s way have been a serious detriment to the team.

“Not only are they hurting themselves, they are also hurting us as a team,” Diggs said. “You know it’s a lot of guys that aren’t playing here or even just not playing. They really hurt. And you know, I just really don’t understand it. How can you just go let your teammates down? Let your families down? That’s something I wake up with and know I’m blessed with each and every day. And I just wish guys take advantage of that.”

Diggs sees the problems on this team expanding past just those who have been disciplined by the coaching staff or dismissed from the team. Ultimately, he thinks it comes down to each player just giving his complete effort in each game and buying into the program and the values coach Strong has instilled.

“Anybody that doesn’t do their job are letting us down,” Diggs said. “If you are suspended, you are letting us down because you are not playing. If you’re not going out and taking advantage of the opportunity that you have, you are letting us down because you are not doing your job.”

Though Texas may struggle without the suspended players, Strong is not willing to compromise his program for the small percentage of players who won’t conform to his ideas.

“We will never become them; they are going to become us, and that’s just the way it is.” Strong said.

In their final three matches of the season, the 25th-ranked Longhorns had well fought matches against three of the top four seeds in the Big 12 Tournament. They have the ability to play with anyone.

“Our whole mindset this season has been to start strong, finish stronger,” said Big 12 second team member Kylie Doniak. “We’re ready for tournament, we’re ready to finish the season strong and go out with a championship.”

Texas will be playing OU in its first match of the Big 12 playoffs. Earlier this season, the Longhorns lost to them 2-1 in double overtime — a game UT should have won.

“One game at a time. We want a ring, we want a championship. We’re here to win, and I think we have a great chance to do so,” Doniak said.

Head coach Chris Petrucelli said the team needs to stay healthy and that the players have continued to improve throughout the season.

“We’re going in there with the thought of winning it,” Petrucelli said. “You go into a tournament to try to win the championship, so that is our mindset.”