In 1990, nine high school students decided to take up a solar car project in the wake of the University of North Texas' decision to terminate their solar car project. This first Winston Solar Team spent the first months learning the basics of mechanical engineering, but it was apparent that no project would be possible without sufficient funding.
The team launched a secondary project to learn how to "fund raise," and approached Texas Instruments for help. After a preliminary presentation, the team was advised to create a more complete proposal including videos, slides, and individual team presentations. Months of follow-up work produced the first credible explanation of the team's goals including a budget, timeline, and project expectations.
The team learned a valuable lesson and went on to build their first solar car with the help and support of many good friends at Texas Instruments and The Acclivus Corporation. The team placed second in the Phoenix 500 (1993), completed the grueling 1100-mile SUNRAYCE from Dallas to Minneapolis, Minnesota (1993), experienced the Tour de Sol (1994), and placed third in the first high school solar car competition, the Winston Solar Challenge (1995). The team went on to represent the United States in both the 1996 and the 1999 World Solar Challenge in Australia. Driving 1800 miles across the Outback, the team earned the admiration and respect of both racing officials and the public.
The team launched its own Solar Education Program in 1993. Inspired by events that focus on colleges and corporations, the Winston Solar Challenge now provides high school students with an equal opportunity to experience science at its very best, while at the same time providing a level playing field for competition. To accomplish this goal, the Winston Solar Car Team developed field guides, videos, and curriculum, as well as conducts periodic workshops and on-site visits. The team has visited more than 1000 schools and colleges from Melbourne (Australia) to New York City, and shared its project with hundreds of thousands of people.
The highlight of the Challenge Education Program is its famous high school solar car race held each summer, hosted by the Winston Solar Car Team. The first race, conducted in 1995, completely circled Dallas County bringing solar racing to hundreds of thousands of people. The 1997 and 1999 Winston Challenges offered a cross-country race between Dallas to San Antonio, and Dallas to Los Angeles, respectively. Races conducted on even-numbered years are held at the world famous Texas Motor Speedway. Plans for 2001 call for a super race from Austin, Texas to Indianapolis, Indiana. More than 1250 high schools from 20 countries have taken part in the Winston Solar Education Program.
The Winston Solar Team raises the money for the Winston Solar Car Team, the Winston Solar Education Program, and the Winston Solar Challenge. Learning how to pour concrete, the team built its own shop; they used recycled materials to construct their building . . . and then learned how to wire that building. Every trip, project, and publication developed by the team is paid for by the kids' own efforts. Over the years, this principle has developed a keen sense of responsibility and commitment in each member.
The original team learned that their knowledge would soon be lost when they graduated. They were wise enough to originate a junior solar program to bring new members onto the team. Now, the Winston project has launched its 10th team and its 9th solar car. The team raised over $125,000 to build a new Winston Solar Science Lab, scheduled for completion during the summer of 2009.
The Winston Solar Car Project is extraordinary in its emphasis on building a well-rounded individual. Students learn to plan, build budgets, develop CAD drawings, make oral presentations, and translate their plans into a real vehicle. They learn how to handle success . . . and maybe more importantly . . . failure. They learn the dedication it takes to stick with an 18-month project, and the patience to see it through.
The Winston School offers learning different students the opportunity to excel. The school, created by several leaders of Dallas' Education Community, provides a well-rounded college preparatory curriculum. Over ninety percent of Winston graduates go on to college. These bright students who learn differently have demonstrated to the world that dyslexia is not a limitation but a gift when properly directed.
For additional information, contact Dr. Lehman Marks, at the Winston School (214.691.6950) (firstname.lastname@example.org), or refer to the Winston Solar web site: http://www.winstonsolar.org.