We’re delighted to have Tessa involved in the FAST business team, her role within the team covers many areas including business management, HR, marketing and administrations. She is currently in her final year at Flinders studying a Bachelor of Business (Management), and has joined the team this semester as a form of work experience for her degree.
“I chose to do my placement as apart of this project over a corporate business as it gave me a wide range of opportunities to apply my knowledge such as management, HR, marketing, etc. As well as getting the chance to work with a range of students and staff with various backgrounds and degrees and learning more about this exciting project.”
The Investigator Mini is Flinders University’s very own Solar Powered Golf Cart! Its purpose is to be the test/practice vehicle in the lead up to the arrival of the Investigator Mark III. Development of the Investigator Mini has been ongoing since 2015; converting a fuel ran cart into device that uses lithium-ion batteries and a solar panel for the roof.
While seeming simple; solar panel, battery, motor; it has been a journey to understand the many intricate components that are realistically required to make it move. The solar panel must be connected to a maximum power point tracker, and then to the battery. The battery must have a battery management system which connects to every other conceivable place. The motor must have a motor controller; that controller must be connected to the existing throttle. On top of all the physical components, there is the CAN interface that allows the transmittance of sensor data that happens in every step.
After many hours, the project has been invaluable as it has allowed the team to gain experience before work can start on the Investigator Mark III. It has given us the opportunity to identify problems, find solutions and reveal different ways to approach areas. Essential knowledge has been given to the team in areas such as the battery box, motor control and the electrical system required in an electric vehicle. Everything learnt will be applied to the solar car making it harder, better, faster and stronger for the challenge.
After being powered with lead-acid batteries for a few months, the Investigator Mini has officially soaked in its first rays of sun-light this month.
With the golf cart mechanically completed, the software systems and different electronics planned to be installed in the solar car can be explored beforehand. While it is fun to drive and brag: “We have a golf cart!”, The Investigator Mini is what will propel Flinders University from a first-time team entering the race to the same level as teams in their second plus run in the Bridgestone World Solar Competition.
We are continuing a grand tradition of solar car development with our participation in the 2017 Bridgestone Solar Challenge. Flinders University’s history is filled with innovation, research and giving students the opportunities to apply their education. Previously staff, Prof Youngerblood and Prof Whitford joined together in the 1970’s and built 3 electric vehicles; in 1974, the Investigator Mk. I, in 1976, the Investigator Mk. II – and the big brother of them all, in 1977, the Investigator Bedford CF, which was a big van. It is in tribute to the early work of these students and researchers before us that we decided to use the name Investigator. However, it is also the name of the ship that bought Matthew Flinders to South Australia. We have lots of historical connections in a team that is also firmly looking to the future!