Illini Solar Car team reveals new vehicle, anticipates success


By Thomas DeMouy, Contributing Writer

The Illini Solar Car team recently unveiled their second vehicle, a car named Brizo, in anticipation of this summer’s slate of solar car competitions.
Brizo’s first competition will be the 2021 American Solar Challenge, which is scheduled to take place across multiple days spanning from late July and early August. The team will drive Brizo along the 800-mile Santa Fe Trail, stretching from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
This new car represents a significant milestone for the Illini Solar Car team, as it will likely allow the team to compete at a higher level in the future. Tara D’Souza, junior in Engineering and director of operations for the team, introduced Brizo in the unveiling video.
“As our first car, Argo had its shortcomings, and we were really eager to show that we are capable of creating something better,” D’Souza said.
Tim Damisch, senior in Engineering and president of the team, recalls the very beginning of the new car.
“Brizo was actually first conceptualized at Bangkok Thai on Green Street in 2018,” Damisch said. “Some of our alumni got dinner there and discussed the fundamental improvements they wanted to make with the next car.”
Brizo replaced Argo, which was the first solar car built by the Illini Solar Car team. Improvements over Argo include a sleeker body design, lighter build and improved power management.
Brizo is named after a goddess in ancient Greek mythology who was known as a protector of mariners and interpreter of dreams. This choice is intended to follow Argo alphabetically and stays true to the theme of Greek mythology established by the first car.
Like anything over the past year, the process of designing and building Brizo has been complicated by the impact of COVID-19.
“Last year, we made a good transition towards an online format, but it has been very difficult to collaborate on these technical engineering projects,” Damisch said. “It has also been difficult to ensure steady construction of Brizo since we would often get a lot of work done with a large group of people over the weekends.”
The Illini Solar Car team annually consists of approximately 80 students from a wide variety of majors.
After unveiling Brizo Saturday, the team still has more work to do to prepare for the upcoming competition.
“We have made a tight schedule of deadlines and goals for us to meet, so we are hoping to have Brizo driving mid-April, so keep an eye out for Brizo around campus,” Damisch said.
Damisch also said that teamwork plays a crucial role in the success of the Illini Solar Car team. The team’s goal is to excel at the highest level of competition, and this can only be achieved with a tightly-knit race team that can fully realize the potential of Brizo.

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