Congratulations to the University of Michigan Solar Car Team

Congratulations to the University of Michigan Solar Car Team! They just won the teams’ fifth national championship, beating thirteen other teams from Austin, TX to Calgary, Canada. The team is the winningist team in the United States, having won five of the nine national championships. This year’s margin was the biggest ever, just under ten hours! (And that was after ~90 minutes in penalties the team chose not to contest.)

As I’ve mentioned before (here and here), the Solar Car Team was a foundational experience for me. I spent four years on the team, working on the 1997 Wolverine and 1999 MaizeBlaze teams. The two years I spent as Project Manager for the 1999 MaizeBlaze team is something I’ll always be proud of; it was two years that taught me more about leadership and management than I ever could have believed. That I was in charge of a 100+ member team with a budget in excess of $1million at age 20/21 is almost unbelievable in hindsight! Though we didn’t quite meet our goals, we developed a fantastic team, and I’m very proud that so many of them stuck around to win in 2001.

This years’ team was a re-vamping of the car that raced across Australia in the fall of 2007. I personally think they had a really great shot at winning the World Solar Challenge with some extremely innovative technology. Unfortunately they were in an accident in the first few miles of the race as a result of some maneuvering with/around the Stanford University entry. Despite the crash, they worked through the night and back through the field to still have a very respectable finish.

The team has been through a lot in the past few years, and I’m really happy that they had such a resounding win this year.


Racing across the US and Canada

Back at University I spent virtually all my time working on and leading the University of Michigan Solar Car Team. It was a fascinating experience, and I raced our cars across the US in Sunrayce 97 and Sunrayce 99, as well as across Australia in the World Solar Challenge 99. I wrote a bit about this before here.

My old team is currently racing in the North American Solar Challenge, from Austin, Texas to Calgary, Canada. That’s 2400 miles! Wired has a half-decent article here on the race, with a GREAT photo of the University of Michigan car (in the wind tunnel).

Good luck to the team! (A few days late.) So far, they’re already in Canada and leading. Of the eight races in the US that have been run since 1990, the team has won four of them so a win here would put them in the majority. GO BLUE!

“Lucky” — a very lucky koala bear

So I was checking e-mail and saw a link to a Reuters Oddly Enough article that mentioned something about a koala. Curious, I clicked through to read it.

The article was about a koala bear that was hit by a car and was stuck in the grill of the car for over 7 miles before the driver was flagged down by another driver. (How you don’t notice hitting an animal of that size, I don’t know.) The story had the obligatory rescue notes, the koala survived and everything was happy in the end.

And then I read the last sentence:

Lucky will stay at the hospital […] for 45 days to recover from his experience and receive treatment for a chlamydial infection.

So THAT’S why he was called “Lucky”! (That crazy Aussie sense of humour…)

First day+ with the iPhone

So I’ve had my new iPhone for about a day now. Upgrading to this from a Motorola RAZR is like skipping two generations of evolution… wow. The display alone is so crisp, sharp and readable that it makes it a treat to use.

The problems I’ve had so far definitely relate to battery life. Partly because it was my first day I’ve been using it a lot and the battery got low really quickly. But part of it was being in a mix of 2G, 3G and WiFi connections. At home I’ve got a solid 2G and WiFi connection (at least when the wireless router isn’t playing up), at work I’ve got a solid 3G and average WiFi connection. Walking around London I’ve got a great 3G connection and no WiFi, and on the Tube there’s crap for anything.

What I really NEED RIGHT NOW is someone to write an application that will allow me to quickly switch between power use settings. As I leave in the morning I’ll use 3G to download NYTimes stories, switch everything off to get on the Tube, and switch certain bits on at the office. If this could be combined with push e-mail settings (which are great when I’m not in the office, but are unnecessary in the office) it would be IDEAL.

Luckily, because of the Application Store, this is quite likely to be developed in the near term! Anyone volunteering?

Overall, it’s a fantastic phone. I really look forward to getting more adept to it in the coming days/weeks.