Summer sunshine powers boats in contest at Clark County Fairgrounds

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Colleges from across the country came to the Clark County Fairgrounds to compete in solar powered boat competitions.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The start of summer symbolizes for many people the start of boating season — an afternoon spent relaxing on a pontoon.

The same is true for Cedarville University students — but their boats run on the power of the sun, and they’re out to claim international victory.

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Mechanical engineering students from the university are competing in the Solar Splash competition at Champions Park at the Clark County Fairgrounds this week.

The intercollegiate competition pits 20 schools around the world against each other to find out who can build the best solar-powered boat.

Senior professor of mechanical engineering, Tim Dewhurst said there are a variety of competitions including distance, slaloms and sprints — where boats can reach speeds of 35 mph.

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Although Dewhurst said the competition between schools is friendly, Cedarville has won 10 times in Solar Splash’s history. The university has been entering the contest since before many of the students competing were even born.

He said Cedarville students build these boats as part of their senior capstone project — the culmination to their college career before entering the job market.

This year, the competition pushes students’ ingenuity more by limiting the weight of the boat as it relates to the solar panels and motor.

“The students work on these boats all year-long,” he said. “What’s a great learning experience about it is to realize how hard it is to actually produce something. If the students can learn to work within these constraints, then they can take on any job and be successful.”

The competition will continue until Saturday. This will be the final year that Cedarville will host the competition.

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