Name: Paola Pimentel Furlanetto
Host Institution: Iowa State University
Academic Training Site: Teal PrISUm – ISU Solar Car
Field of Study: Electrical Engineering
I worked with Team PrISUm, a student organization at Iowa State University that produces race cars. The race cars that Team PrISUm produces, however, are no ordinary race cars. They are electric cars powered by solar energy. They can also endure a cross-country race. The car I worked on took 2 years to complete and I contributed to the final stage of the car’s construction, was a member of the race crew and participated in outreach events.
Paola and Team PrISUm at ASC, a cross-country race
The best thing about my experience with Team PrISUm was the people I got to meet. The whole experience was a process of mutual learning and I believe that both myself and my teammates benefited from the experience. It was also great to be a part of the race crew at the American Solar Challenge (ASC) 2012, an 8-state-long cross-country race, where we raced Hyperion, PrISUm’s 12th car. Hyperion came in second place and won best mechanical and electrical design. Being part of the race crew allowed me to put all the things I learned into practice. Along with my other team members, I had to manage risks, fix problems, make decisions, and maintain a positive outlook in the face of obstacles and adversity. The other team members made this easier as they were always willing to help, exchange knowledge and ideas, and offer a smile.
Hyperion and Team PrISUm crossing the finish-line at ASC
The most important thing I learned during my AT was that human willpower is the greatest strength of all. Regardless of the amount of resources you have, nothing can beat the human will. With Team PrISUm, I learned that hard work and perseverance are the keys to success.
Team PrISUm with their award at ASC
Since I have returned to Brazil, I have done many presentations about the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program so that I can encourage other students to study abroad. My goal is to one day start a group similar to Team PrISUm at my university in Brazil. My colleagues have so much potential and can do so much more. I believe it is my responsibility to be passionate and to change my reality by sharing the things I learned so that we can do what we are capable of.
Note from Paola’s supervisor, Evan Stumpges:
I had the pleasure of working with Paola both in the classroom and with the solar car team. It became evident to me early on that she had a strong foundation in electrical engineering and programming, which would prove to be a great asset to the team. But more importantly, she always had a disciplined work ethic and positive attitude that made for productive and engaging team meetings.
IIE note: Take a look at Team PrISUm and Hyperion on the American Solar Challenge’s website.