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SOPHIE V demonstrates its full potential in international arena
  • <p>“Their admirable achievement is the best example demonstrating the strengths of vocational training in Hong Kong.”</p>
  • <p>“Their admirable achievement is the best example demonstrating the strengths of vocational training in Hong Kong.”</p>
  • <p>“Their admirable achievement is the best example demonstrating the strengths of vocational training in Hong Kong.”</p>
  • <p>“Their admirable achievement is the best example demonstrating the strengths of vocational training in Hong Kong.”</p>
  • <p>“Their admirable achievement is the best example demonstrating the strengths of vocational training in Hong Kong.”</p>

“Their admirable achievement is the best example demonstrating the strengths of vocational training in Hong Kong.”

Oct 2015

This October has been unforgettable for the SOPHIE Team. Two years of hard work, sweat and difficulties has witnessed their success in this year’s World Solar Challenge (WSC) with their fifth-generation solar-powered car – SOPHIE V. Although SOPHIE team faced a lot of challenges, they accomplished the 3000 km journey and obtained the second best result in the Asia region.

SOPHIE team is not a newcomer to this biennial solar car competition. They were the first ever Hong Kong team joining WSC in 2013 and clinched the third runner-up of the Go Pro Adventure Class. Just like any inventor who neither stops nor looks back, they are ambitious and aim for more in the second race. Ir Peter Tang Siu-sing, Deputy Academic Director (Engineering) of VTC said, "Our approach has always been targeting a real car which can rely purely on renewable energy for our society." This is the reason why SOPHIE team decided to participate in a different class this year, the more challenging Cruiser Class, which requires a solar powered car with high practicality - four wheels and two seats as well as storage space for luggage.” 

As the only Chinese team in the Cruiser class, SOPHIE team invested a huge effort to perfect the car design. Ir Tang explained, "We mapped out our plans and strategies for two years with a completely different car profile. The total weight, solar panel position for maximum sunshine capture, battery and even the outlook, all these affect the performance of the car." The laundry list of preparation work and the difficulties faced were imaginably arduous. Finding suitable components was a headache as nothing was available on hand, even the most basic parts such as seat belt and headlights. They had to refine the car design to better accommodate the parts and test repeatedly for its suitability before application. It was very time consuming and frustrating at times. 

The team sent the first group of members to Australia two weeks ahead of the race for on-site preparation. During their time in Darwin, all solar cars were required to pass a static scrutineering and a dynamic scrutineering before the race. Student Chak Kong-wai, the driver said, “It was so memorable to drive the SOPHIE V running in the Hidden Valley raceway which is famous for its high speeds and fast lap times. Our team was truly like a professional Formula One team.”

Competition is all about challenges and unexpectedness. No matter how well SOPHIE team prepared in advance, accidents still happened. Billy Chow Man-hon, Lecturer, Department of Engineering of IVE (Tsing Yi) recalled, “When the team were repairing the solar panels, one of our teammates was accidently hurt. After taking painkillers at the hospital, he immediately re-joined the team. He, without blaming anyone, just stayed calm and focused on the competition as much as the others. That was very touching to see our students all grown up to become mature, tough, and conscientious through this competition.”

The WSC 2015 attracted 43 teams from 24 regions to chase the Sun. The Cruiser Class was full of experienced professionals, such as, Kogakuin University from Japan, Solar Team Eindhoven from the Netherlands, and the UNSW Solar Racing Team SUNSWIFT from the host nation Australia. Ir Dr. Peter Chiu Ping-kuen, Head, Department of Engineering of IVE (Tsing Yi), said, “Some teams had previously participated in the Cruiser Class. The competition was fiercer than we expected.” However, behind the scene of keen competition, the WSC 2015 was all about international friendship. Student Alex Lok Wai-kuen shared, “All the participants were willing to help each other. We were happy that the other teams accepted our suggestions to sort out their problems. Everyone treasured friendship first then competition second.” It was not a bloody battle, and it was more important not to just focus on the prizes and honours, getting exchange with elite around the globe was also a precious gift for SOPHIE team.

Despite facing top teams who came from highly industrialized nations, with comprehensive technical support and even tailored-made components from their industrial enterprises, SOPHIE team completed the race as other top institutions did. Student Kenneth Hui Ka-chuen, said, “We are really proud of our result and we did our best. SOPHIE will continue to drive more industrial support for the renewable energy technology development in Hong Kong.” Certainly, the team does deserve to be proud as the whole innovative research and development process was completed on their own.

While the WSC 2015 came to a perfect close, SOPHIE team is ready to roll up their sleeves again to go further on their green track, and promote the application of renewable energy to the public with their knowledge and experience gained from the project. Their admirable achievement is the best example demonstrating the strengths of vocational training in Hong Kong.

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