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Steering the Car

by Eric Choi

I am a first-year computer science major here at UVA and this is my second semester on the Solar Car team. Despite being a computer science major, I enjoy getting my hands dirty and working with computer aided design. Joining Solar Car was a great opportunity for me to get away from staring at a screen all day and to partake in an engineering project that encompasses a large range of differing engineering principles and concepts.

I am currently the team’s steering design lead. I am in the midst of designing and implementing an effective steering system for this year’s upcoming race in the summer. It is my duty to understand all aspects of what makes proper steering. Given that my mechanical skills and knowledge of CAD is limited, I am often working with more experienced people on the team to help bring my designs to life.

Caption: Some schematics for the steering system.

The steering team is currently in the process of transitioning from the design phase of the project to implementing our designs. I am enjoying this shift in pace because I feel that the project is progressing nicely now that the system is being manufactured and close to be implemented onto the physical car.

During my time in Solar Car, I have learned how project-based engineering works. I learned how tasks are divided up into different components and distributed to different leads and groups for implementation. I believe that this process is very efficient and similar to how engineering projects are performed in the professional world. I am grateful to have engineering experience working on a team like Solar Car which will better prepare me for project-based development in the future.

Caption: Rack and pinion, which is the main mechanism responsible for linear motion in the steering system.

Caption: Computer aided design of the steering arm mount.

Caption: Water-jetted steering arm mount, which is attached to the upright on the front tires.

I first joined the Solar Car team because of my prior involvement with FTC robotics in high school. In college, I hoped to find a different club/organization that would fill the empty void of FTC robotics and that organization came in the form of Solar Car. At the beginning of my involvement, I used to be very inactive on the team and would only attend the CAD workshops every Saturday. This quickly changed after Sandesh convinced me to go on a team bonding hiking trip to Humpback Rock. After this event, I felt more connected to the team and quickly became more involved with the project. I realized that I wanted to be more involved and I wanted to use my skills in a real engineering project. I feel that once you get truly involved with something it becomes easier to come back and finish what you started.

Name: Wonyoung Choi

Year: 1st year

Major: Computer Science BS

Team Position: Mechanical Team Steering Lead

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