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CALLICOON’S SARAH HIGHHOUSE, center front, stands with her Messiah College teammates in front of their solar-powered car which is now racing across America with Highhouse at the wheel.

Unique Race Has
Native at the Wheel

By Kevin Sanford
GRANTHAM, PA — July 20, 2001 – A team of engineers from Messiah College were busy putting the final touches on their solar-powered car last week in anticipation of this past Sunday’s commencement of the American Solar Challenge.
Led by Callicoon’s own Sarah Highhouse, the Messiah team, known as Genesis, is racing its car against nearly 60 other corporate and collegiate entries. The race began in Chicago and spans 2,300 miles before concluding in southern California on July 25.
Sarah’s parents, Ron and Judy Highhouse, were invited to drive one of the support vehicles for the duration of the race.
“We’re very proud of our daughter and thrilled to be invited,” said Sarah’s father about the race. “It’s a wonderful school and a wonderful program.”
Although Genesis teams have competed in solar races before, this year’s race is especially rigorous for a number of reasons. The length and path of the race, for example, are drastically different than those of years past. Formerly, the longest distance covered by a Genesis team car was 1,300 miles. In addition, the American Solar Challenge will take place in temperature and terrain extremes never before faced in competition.
Another difference in this year’s race is the expanded competition. For the first time, entry in the race will be open to private companies, clubs and individuals (hitherto it had been restricted to college and university teams).
Having spent the last two years improving upon their car’s design, the Messiah engineers are confident that they can better their 1999 Sunrayce outing, when they finished seventh out of 29 competitors.
Some of the more notable improvements include new space-grade solar cells donated to the team by the New Jersey-based EMCORE corporation and an overall weight reduction of nearly 300 lbs. (from 771 lbs. to 500 lbs.). The new solar array will nearly double the car’s efficiency and allow it to sustain speeds 15 mph faster than the previous design, without drawing from the car’s battery cell (the car’s cruising speed is 55 mph). Also, a new lightweight lithium-ion polymer battery will allow for increased energy storage, and an all-new electrical system will provide real-time statistics to the team to help them calculate efficiency rates enroute.
Highhouse, who is piloting the craft, spent the past year improving the car’s braking system for her senior project. With the steep grades that will be encountered in the Rocky Mountains, it is imperative that the brake design is reliable and will not overheat.
When the Genesis team tested their improvements at the 125-mile pre-qualifier in Topeka, Kansas, they set a record for the fastest lap.
“You’re definitely awake. It’s rough,” Sarah said about driving the car. “You’re lying down, looking up or straining your neck to see out. The motor is running in your ear, and you have on earphones. Your arms get really tired because you get knocked from side to side – it’s like riding a luge.”
Anyone interested in following the race can do so online at www. for the American Solar Challenge or www.messiah. edu/genesis for Genesis ‘01.

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