Appalachian State University’s solar vehicle team, Team Sunergy, has taken third place in the Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum, Pennsylvania.

Under heavy cloud cover and some rain, the team completed the race on July 28 with a total of 414 laps, behind Principia College with 454 laps and University of Michigan, which took first place with 518 laps.

Appalachian State University’s Team Sunergy celebrates their third place win at the Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum, Pennsylvania. Pictured (left to right) are Abby Hastings, James Furr, Jon Linck, Bailey Winecoff, Jake Barnes, Logan Ward, Andrew Grimes, Pedro Franco, Lindsay Rudisill, Duvey Rudow and Dan Blakeley. Photo by Marie Freeman.

In a classic “come from behind” story, Appalachian’s team, which raced 15 other teams, surpassed colleges and universities with world-renowned engineering programs to land a podium spot in the international competition.

In 2015, Appalachian’s team entered the race but did not qualify to race on the track. This year, the team met all qualifications and was in the first group to be allowed on the track to race.

Appalachian’s team is led by Dan Blakeley, a graduate student from Olympia, Washington who is pursuing dual degrees in engineering physics and appropriate technology. Blakeley developed the idea to build the car and enter the race, and has been leading the team for two years. “To come to an event like this after two years of countless hours of work and dedication… you just can’t describe it,” said Blakeley. “It’s exciting to see how well our car performs against a bunch of other amazing schools, universities and colleges from other parts of the world.”

Jon Linck, a senior from Raleigh, North Carolina majoring in appropriate technology, serves as the pit crew boss. “We didn’t really know what to expect out here on the track,” said Linck, “but [the car] really exceeded our expectations. Now we can look forward to heading to Ohio and starting our 1,900-mile journey out west. Hopefully we can apply all the work we have done here to the [American Solar Challenge].”


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