TEDxStanford 2014: Life Lessons from a Solar Car

May was a busy month for the team in terms of outreach and team events. Only 2 days after our team’s first Open Garage Talk, our Business & Logistics Lead, Rachel Abril, presented on behalf of Stanford Solar Car at TEDxStanford 2014. This year’s event was entitled “Above and Beyond,” and featured a day’s worth of inspirational talks that truly did stretch boundaries–from deep sea exploration to the cosmos. This is the first time that our team has been represented at TEDx, and we were honored and excited to be a part of such a fascinating and unique event.

Team members answer questions about Luminos, out on display during the lunch break. (Photo L.A. Cicero/Stanford News)

Team members answer questions about Luminos, out on display during the lunch break. (Photo L.A. Cicero/Stanford News)

Condensing over 20 years of solar car racing legacy, or even just the two years of dedication and ingenuity that went into designing, building, and racing Luminos, into an engaging and informative 10-minute talk is no easy task–but it’s one that Rachel undertook and pulled off well.

A few choice quotes (that resurfaced on twitter) include:

The battle for efficiency is never over.

We not only build solar cars, but something sexier: reasonable and conservative engineers.

As well as the three lessons from solar car that the talk was structured around:

1. Go fast, but not recklessly fast.

This was a direct lesson from Xenith, where the team’s race performance was ultimately hurt by what turned out to be, as Rachel puts it, “overzealous innovation.”

2. Test it. Test it again. Test it more.

This lesson comes from the success of Luminos, whose quality as SSCP’s most well-characterized car in project history paid off in sturdy and reliable race performance.

3. Use failure as a foundation for success.

To which Rachel then added, “Success is also a foundation for success. But failure is good too.” Reflecting on the lessons learned from Xenith and Luminos, we have a lot to draw from as we move forward onto the challenges ahead.

Intrigued? Watch the talk here.

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