Solar Car Power Management


© 1996
Paul Vincent Craven
All Rights Reserved

One of the more interesting challenges is finding sponsors for the UMR Solar Car Team. I had never been fond of asking people for money, or calling them on the phone. The first time I tried this I was quite nervous. Luckily my first fund raising attempt put me in touch with Bob O'Brian at Nu-Mega Technologies. He had previously done research in solar power, and was very interested in our project. Soon I had a complementary copy of Bounds-Checker NT which made debugging an easier process.

Next came Sokkia who provided for use a set of high-end GPS GPS's capable of differentiation, valued at fifteen thousand dollars. I had not ever thought of doing the total power estimation described above until I saw what their equipment could do. They even allowed us use of their beta software so we could have access to the 'stream' functionality, which hadn't been released to the public. Keith Cunningham and Dr. Joseph Paiva of Sokkia were the people responsible for seeing that donation through.

With our power management software running under Windows NT Windows NT™, I thought it might be a good idea to see if Microsoft would like to back our project. I had become impressed with Microsoft's support of NT when I found an obscure bug in NT 3.5 and e-mailed a report, not expecting a reply. Instead, I soon had a technician who spent eight hours logged into my computer tracking down the bug. The new version, Windows NT™ 3.51, now will no longer crash on 90 MHz Pentium systems with a PCI bus when you hit escape during log-in with the Remote Access Services. (It was an obscure bug.) Paul Donnelly Paul Donnelly thought our project was interesting and forwarded information about it to Collins Hemmingway Collins Hemmingway at Microsoft Backoffice. Soon after, we had a sponsorship from Microsoft!

Several students on the UMR Solar Car Team put a lot of effort into raising money. The cost of the computers, the solar cells, and manufacture of the solar car added up to about a quarter million dollars. Without their efforts in obtaining sponsorships, the project would have never gotten off the ground. In order to keep up sponsor interest, newsletters are sent out detailing the work currently being done. Managing the list of names and addresses of the sponsors is a large and important task. If a sponsor does not receive the promised benefits, then we will lose them and our tarnished reputation will make it harder to get other sponsorships.