Last year, SPIE awarded 115 scholarships and grants to individuals, programs, and institutions around the world for a total of more than $260,000. One of these grants went to the Koç University SPIE Student Chapter in Istanbul, Turkey, to support their work on model solar cars.
Undergraduate students first built a model solar car in 2004, learning many skills along the way.
"Students first learned to make a component search for solar cells," explains Alper Kiraz, assistant professor of physics at Koç University. "They compared and contrasted different solar cells and purchased the ones which were optimum in terms of cost, availability, and performance. After purchasing a model car, they designed a panel suitable for the solar cells and placed it on the dissembled model car. They then completed the electrical connections and made the solar car operational."
While a good exercise, this was just the first step in the chapter's plans for the model solar car experiment.
"This year we are planning to hold a model solar car race among a number of local high schools," says Kiraz. "For that purpose, we are going to inform various local high schools, and provide them with the necessary funds and expertise for making model solar cars."
Chapter members also plan to visit middle and elementary schools to give presentations about the basics of optics and photonics, solar energy, and its application to daily life.
The chapter's ultimate goal, however, is to enter a national full-sized solar car race. "We are hoping to use the technical expertise gained by these experiences in building a normal-sized solar car," explains Kiraz.
Fig. 1 Students at the Koç University SPIE Student Chapter work on their model solar car. The chapter was founded in 2002 and is the only SPIE student chapter in Turkey.
Each year, SPIE gives out dozens of scholarships and grants to both individuals and institutions. Grants are useful for activities involving collaboration between SPIE student chapters, sending students to SPIE-sponsored events, developing new courses, and general public education. If you're a part of an SPIE student chapter and have a program that could use some extra funding, keep the SPIE grants in mind.
For more information about this special funding, see spie.org/scholarships.