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Student team finished in national solar car race

Solar car team member

Industrial Technology major Matt Steinacher was one of 30 on the solar car team.

The students of Illinois State’s Team Mercury built a new solar-powered vehicle for the American Solar Challenge, a 1,650-mile race that ran in July from Rochester, New York, to St. Paul, Minnesota. Of 16 teams that entered the competition, ISU finished seventh.

More than 30 ISU students from across campus and majors worked to build Mercury IV, which cost $5,000. Materials were donated by companies for the car, which is comprised of a steel tube frame covered in an aerodynamically designed carbon fiber shell. It weighs 600 pounds with a driver and has a top speed of 75 mph.

The Solar Car Challenge is a national effort that attracts universities across the United States and Canada. This was the fifth year for Team Mercury to race. Four students drove the vehicle, with a back-up team of seven students as crew.

“The work we do transcends the classroom and gives students a hands-on approach to not only building a car, but problem solving, crisis management and teamwork,” Team Mercury advisor Jim Dunham said.

Learn more about the team online at