June 1, 2009

Day 5 - Final Sprint Rounds and the Ride Home

Yesterday marked the end of the Solar Splash 2009 competition, and the team has returned from a 16+ hour drive from Arkansas to Pittsburgh. By far the longest "day" of the competition, it all started as we set up the boat for the final two rounds of the Sprint event.
Meanwhile, we loaded the trailer so that we could make our post-competition egress as swift as possible.

Next, Robbie Wedler stepped into Mike's shoes by being the pilot for our 2nd round sprint heat against University of Northern Iowa. Unfortunately, we had a minor electrical glitch which set us back about 10 seconds in the race, for a total time of 51.54 seconds. Robbie still handled the boat well, as used the opportunity as a good learning experience for the upcoming 3rd heat.

We quickly learned our lesson, and were ready for our head to head 3rd round sprint heat against the University of North Florida. Luckily, we are able to give you a sneak preview of the race before our higher quality tape gets processed, so you can see the race in the video below:

Our final time was 40.47 seconds, leaving us with our top two times of 39.46 seconds from round 1, and 40.47 seconds from round 3.

Of course, it wouldn't be CMSS without some sort of exciting twist in the story.

It turns out that during that final 5 meters of the 300 meter race, our sprint lower unit was under such force that the fiberglass and PVC housing cracked, subsequently shearing the driveshaft.
We also sustained damage to our hull, but this damage will be easily repairable over the course of next year.

Overall, we did better across the board in all events compared with last year, so we are excited about that. The competition became much more fierce this year, so our standing dropped to 12th place out of 18 teams. However, we went away with three awards: the "Sportsmanship" Award, the "Design Achievement" award for outstanding system design and integration, and 3rd place in the Technical Report.

Updated: I've included some new pictures from Robbie's camera of the awards. Below is the whole team (plus lower unit) receiving our competition plaque.

David and I went up to receive the Design Achievement award:
We posed with the team from Southampton, UK when we both received the Sportsmanship award for helping the team from Monterrey.We are happy with our progress this year, and are excited about the awards we received.

Over the past few days we have seen some ups and downs. We have felt elation, devastation, exhaustion, and animation. Despite what we have been through, one thing remains certain. The experiences gained by all of our members over the year has made this year's competition a success. We have seen the fruits of our labor tested against some incredible competition, and as a result have seen what works and what doesn't work. The team had a great time in Arkansas, and have come out of the competition with not only new knowledge, but also new friends (the guys from Monterrey are absolutely awesome).

We will carry the lessons learned throughout this year into the next year. Thanks to the help of sponsorship by National Instruments, 3M, the Steinbrenner Institute, and RE Squared, as well as support from donations by family and friends, we are able to endow next year's team with the capital and financial resources they need to continue our team's development.

A Farewell

It has been an honor to serve as the leader of such a talented and motivated team of students for the past year. When I see how far we have come over the past year, it truly pains me to think that, given my graduation, I now have to leave most of it behind. I have complete faith that Mike Barako and David Bromberg will do an even better job than I at taking this organization to heights we have never seen before. My personal goal for this year was to leave the organization in a better situation than what was given to me. Thanks to the fanastic team of people who have worked on this boat over the year, as well as the truly transformative potential that Mike and David now possess, I can confidently say that I have achieved this goal.

Although I have said it time and time again, I still believe that at Carnegie Mellon Solar Splash, we do not build boats, we build people.

When I look back on how I have changed as a result of CMSS, I have come to realize that it indeed was the people, and not the boat, that were responsible for building me. Working with each and every one of our team members has been an experience worth more than I can ever repay. I wish the team the best of luck in the following years (although I know they won't need it), and look forward to hearing about your progress for years to come.

- Mark
CMSS Ex-President 08-09

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