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RIT solar car program collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RITArc-0267

Scope and Contents

RIT solar car collection consists of 7 folders containing proposals, brochures, news and article clippings, press releases and other public relations materials as well as photographs related to the College of Engineering project to design and build a solar car for entry in a national race. All items relate to four separate proposals over 5 years, 1989 - 1994.


  • Creation: 1989-1994


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

The first solar car project named SPIRIT (Solar Powered Innovation at Rochester Institute of Technology) was conceived by students in RIT's College of Engineering. The student chapter of the Society of Automative Engineers at RIT submitted a proposal to General Motors Sunrayce in 1989, and it was one of 32 schools chosen from 64 proposals. A team of 25 students split into five groups - Mechanical, Electrical, Shell Design, Strategies and Tactics, and Logistics - to work together to build a car that would be as "aerodynamically, mechanically, and electrically efficient as possible." Students from other colleges also took part in the project.

The first car was teardrop shape, weighed 434 pounds, used a 2 x 4 meter curved solar array, and 14% efficient silicon crystal cells.The shell was constructed of structural foam with dacron skin. The car had cruise control, turn signals, seatbelts and a windshield wiper. SPIRIT was entered in SUNRAYCE U.S.A. in 1990, receiving fourth place for engineering design and safety, and finishing 12th out of 32 entrants. Students worked over the next year to redesign and improve the car, including a new drivetrain and a new shell. The weight of the car was reduced from 435 lbs. to less than 400 lbs. SPIRIT was entered into the 1991 American Tour de Sol and the car won first place for the Cross-Continental Class vehicles. Another improved car entered Sunrayce '93, and placed third in their class in the American Tour de Sol Race in 1994.


.25 Linear Feet (1 half document box)




Documents and clippings related to the College of Engineering solar car project.


Collection is divided into four folders by series: Proposals, Brochures,Publications,News Clippings, Press Releases, Miscellaneous.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to RIT Archive Collections by Kathy Lindsley in 2006.

Accession number(s): 06:10

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Becky Simmons in November 2011.


RIT solar car Program collection
RIT Archives
Becky Simmons
22 November 2011
Description rules
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Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA