TEAMwork: UofC Solar at NASC 2K5

By Chris Tait

Though many heard about the team’s progress on the news or in the paper, few realized that there were more than just a couple of drivers and a really clever marketing campaign behind the U of C’s solar car project. There was an entire expansive team travelling and working as one large unit, each individual with their own story. Some of these team members will go on to participate in the World Solar Challenge in Australia later this month.

As Mechanical Manager for the car, Colby Bell was in charge of assuring the team that the brakes, tires, chassis, and mechanical pieces were all in excellent condition. Of all the team members, he was also the one clocking the most time on his back staring up at the red carbon fibre underbelly of the solar-eating beast. While finishing his Mechanical Engineering Degree, Colby moonlights in aircraft maintenance.

Craig Boris is a graduate of the Electrical Engineering program, and so the car’s battery was his playground throughout the trip. Craig loved that battery. He monitored it at every stage of the race. Whenever it was cold, he’d snuggle up with it and tuck its little solder-filled head in…

Dan Fantini and Pat Walsh were the go-to guys when it came to machining or old-school engineering wisdom. They can also tell a damn good joke. So, a cowboy walks into a bar…

Florence Hum underwent most of the driver training, including the physical training at the U of C’s Campus Recreation Centre. She also drove the chase vehicle at times, aiding in cycling the four drivers of the car from vehicle to vehicle.

Besides helping Laurie Heilman-Bell with logistical planning, Business Manager Garrett Brett also co-ordinated sponsor money and a marketing team in Calgary, and ran the most whacky errands in the most remote locations throughout the trip. He is known for his taste in fine food and for his ridiculous generosity. Camera-shy Laurie’s job descriptions extended beyond the space allotted here, so she’ll have to deal with the few readily remembered: Team Nutritionist, Gopher (taking care of many of the plethora of daily errands) and Team Mom.

Managing external media relations for the U of C, Greg Harris was a very busy man when he signed on to promote the solar car project. Arranging appearances everywhere from CFCN to Fox News is not a simple thing to accomplish without his shakin’ and a-movin’ (Just don’t lose his luggage).

Sean Hum served as Team Strategist, taking all the information sent by the scout car, maps, and various equipment, then planning out how the car should be run and how much energy should be spent at any given time. Sean is in the midst of his graduate degree at the U of C.

Kyle Rebryna has just recently finished his science degree in geology, and is headed to Australia to continue his streak as golden boy driver. Kyle spends his days nursing his infatuation with space, and was described as being “gitty as a schoolgirl” when he found out his day off from racing coincided with the shuttle launch.

Natalie Panek’s claim to fame on the solar car adventure was her undeniable title as Most Injured-Looking Driver, her legs bruised from multiple high-speed encounters with various parts of the car, often when entering and exiting the cockpit. She is also finishing her mechanical engineering undergrad internship this year.

After turning down Swerve Magazine’s offer to be one of Calgary’s most eligible bachelors, Rashaad Sader decided to expand his “playing field” to all of North America by becoming manager of the race’s most publicized team. But sexy female reporters fear not: he is currently slamming out a graduate thesis at the U of C.

Attempting to fit in with the Texas I-can-and-must-carry-concealed-wherever-I-go ideal, the team actually considered to force [local celebrity/weatherman extraordinaire] Steve Rothfels to pray to the weather gods with a sundance-jig fusion at gunpoint, but decided to be really, really nice instead. It was a close vote, Steve.

Shawn Z. Ah, the man with the name that has been deemed officially unpronounceable. “Zwergen-bergen,” “Zee,” and “Hey… man” seemed adequate substitutes, with varied success. He could be found haunting wherever electrical work needed to be done, allowing for the assumption that he is currently enrolled at the U of C in electrical engineering, likes to eat voraciously, and wears out sandals faster than the engineers say they can “demolish forty beers.”

Without Dr. Josh Leon (after whom the car was named) as such a supportive force in the faculty, the project would never have been as successful in attracting attention or raising awareness as it did. Unfortunately, Dr. Leon’s devotion to the project will be missed as he’s taken up a position in Halifax.

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