When most high school students are preparing for prom, a group of students have found a more creative way to spend their time. Engineering students from Bullard High School in Southern Houston are building a solar car from the ground up.

After obtaining some rather expensive sheets of carbon fiber and tubing, these students have been working to create a lightweight and functional solar-powered race car. Once completed, the vehicle will be 1.6 meters tall, 1.8 meters wide. Bullard High School senior, Cullen Hippler, said it is 15 feet long now but will be 16 feet long in the end. Unlike most of the other teams involved in this challenge that chose to use prefabricated solar panels, the Bullard High students have decided to build their own solar panels.

“We’re building a solar car from the ground up using composite materials. We’re actually the only ones in the United States using this patent. It was a technology that was developed in Poland, and we figured it was perfect for our car,” said Bullard High School senior Austin Gwartney.

Their car will travel from Houston to Dallas this summer to enter into the Winston Solar Car Challenge, which is only open to high school students. Once in Dallas, it will be judged and then driven to California without stopping for gas. The car will travel over an eight day period and be judged according to the mileage and not the speed.

“We’ve re-checked and checked to make sure we’ve got all out T’s crossed and I’s dotted. That way we will be able to assure we will be able to compete this year,” said Hippler. The strict rules require a lot of time and dedication from the students since it is not uncommon to be disqualified prior to start of the race.

Through the efforts of several students, the Bullard Engineering Department has experienced a lot of successful fundraising; however, they still have a way to go before heading to Dallas this summer.