Meet some ECE Solar Car Team members

Meet 3 members of the solar car team: a battery engineer and two race micro systems engineers

Brad assembling a battery Enlarge
Brad assembles Novum's battery, which he both mechanically and electrically designed.

Student: Bradley Baker, Class of 2018

Program: Electrical Engineering

Crew Team Position: Battery Engineer

Brad is a junior in Electrical Engineering.  When he transferred from Hope College as a freshman, he had his sights set on being a part of the best student project team at Michigan.  He remembers walking around outside the team’s workspace the first time he visited the school with his parents.  He remembers trying to peek into the windows to catch a glimpse of the car, hoping to one day join the Solar Car team.  Finally, in the first semester of his junior year, he joined and found a spot on the team designing the battery (affectionately titled “Brad-ery”) for the 2017 race.  As a life-long Michigan fan, he is honored and excited to represent his favorite school in 2017’s World Solar Challenge.

Thoughts on inspiration:
“Clayton, our engineering director, is a pretty inspirational guy himself. He’s not really one to lead through words, as much as he is to lead through being there and giving everyone advice. It’s absurd being on a team that works this hard. No matter how much you work, Clayton is always there longer. It’s just cool to have someone who sets such a good example; who’s always working hard, and always there for you.

Speaking of engineering directors, my dad is one of my biggest inspirations. He took a rather unique path by asking the right questions, being really passionate, and enjoying his work. One of my favorite things is whenever I get to show him stuff about our solar car, I bring him in and ask him a question about a project that I’m currently working on and he’ll give me a long lecture of everything he’s learned about it. It’s cool to finally be able to speak his language.”

Silverman carving carbon-fibre plates with a high-powered water jet Enlarge
Nathan extracts water-jetted, carbon fibre plates which create our dashboard housing, a major part of the driver interface.

Student: Nathan Silverman, Class of 2020

Program: Computer Engineering

Crew Team Position: Race Micro Systems Engineer

Nathan Silverman is a freshman. He was an artistic gymnast in high school, which fostered his love for competition and pushing himself to tackle new challenges. After researching the team in high school, he joined at the beginning of his freshman year as a microsystems engineer. Over the past year, he has worked to implement the various microsystems needed for the race. When he is not doing Solar Car, Nathan is an avid rock climber and backpacker, and loves going on adventures around the world. He is honored to be a part of the 2017 Race Crew and is excited to compete in the World Solar Challenge.

Thoughts on perseverance:
“”Sometimes you really just have to put yourself out there and go for it, even though its scary. A lot of the barriers in gymnastics were mental rather than physical. It’s a pretty high risk thing, on a high bar, you have to convince yourself thats it’s okay to let go, that you know what you’re doing, and that you trust your coach to spot you. It’s not that I was physically unable to do it, but getting past being mentally unwilling or scared was the greatest hurdle. And that never stops, you have to keep persisting through, with the amount of time invested, you want to succeed.

Here, whenever I’m working on micro systems, I’m constantly learning new things on a daily basis and there’s so much that I still don’t understand. It’s definitely difficult because theres no clear way forward. In high school I didn’t really have this background, and now I’m trying to jump right into a very high level understanding of being able to program and design the electrical systems of the car. I feel like it’s a constant battle where I’m trying to learn new things all the time. It gets hard and tedious, but that same struggle reminds me of gymnastics when you put in the time day after day, trying to learn a skill for hours on end.”

Caroline polishing a mirror with a gas mask on Enlarge
Caroline Subramoney

Student: Caroline Subramoney, Class of 2020

Program: Computer Engineering

Crew Team Position: Race Micro Systems Engineer

Caroline Subramoney is a freshman.  She chose the University of Michigan because of the team, and accordingly she joined the team almost immediately after moving in.  She worked as a microelectronics engineer throughout the school year, responsible for designing, building, and testing the vehicle’s driver interface.

She also races in marathons:
“The last mile was worse than the first 10 combined. It was the worst 8 minutes. My legs were noodles, my vision was going blurry which was concerning at the time. I was exhausted. I felt like quitting. As I was running, until I saw the finish line, I kept wondering if I was going to make it. I ended up finishing by slowing my pace and pushing through. And knowing that my family was there waiting at the finish line kept me going.

When you feel your form deteriorate, I try to just think ‘fast, light, and smooth’. Have you ever heard of people describe the runners’ high? When you’re fast, light, and smooth, you really just feel in tune with your body and everything is going really well; you just feel so powerful— nothing else makes you feel that powerful and in control, its weird.”