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World Solar Challenge shines light on STEM in Australia

A driver in a solar vehicle prepares to start the World Solar Challenge in central Darwin, Australia, October 8, 2017. Picture taken October 8, 2017. Source: AAP/Glenn Campbell via Reuters

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge has again showed off the talents of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) experts from universities around the world.

The Netherlands claimed a seventh World Solar Challenge title last week after its solar-powered car drove the length of the Australian continent in a little over 37 hours.

The race across Australia has run for the past three decades, with 2017 marking its 30th anniversary.

Source: World Solar Challenge

The challenge ran between Oct 8 and 15, featuring 42 cars powered only by the sun racing from Australia’s tropical north to its southern shores, a gruelling 3,000km endurance test through the outback.

The Nuon Solar Team from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, entering the lightest car in the field, reached the finish line in 37 hours, 10 minutes and 41 seconds, according to race organisers.

The United States – represented by the University of Michigan’s Engineering Faculty – came in second place.

The fastest time on record in the race was achieved by Japan’s Tokai University in 2009, completing the transcontinental race in only 29 hours and 49 minutes.

Nuon team manager Sander Koot said drivers were forced to adjust their strategy after encountering wind gusts of up to 60km per hour to profit from the winds as if a sailing ship.

The solar vehicle for the team called ‘Punch 2’ prepares to start the World Solar Challenge in central Darwin, Australia, October 8, 2017. Picture taken October 8, 2017. Source: AAP/Glenn Campbell/via Reuters

The race starts in the northern city of Darwin and ends in the southern city of Adelaide, with cars typically reaching speeds of 90kph to 100 kph.

Organisers said the biennial event had attracted one of the widest fields ever, with teams from more than 40 countries.

Members of the Nuon Solar team celebrate after winning the 2017 World Solar Challenge after crossing the finish line in Adelaide, Australia, October 12, 2017. Source: AAP/David Mariuz/via Reuters

Additional reporting by Reuters

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