Schools benefit from university’s solar car donations

Maragon Private School (Maragon) and the Deutsche Internationale Schule Johannesburg (DSJ) will be participating in this year’s Sasol Solar Challenge, thanks to North West University (NWU) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ), who each donated their solar-powered cars that took part in the 2012 Sasol Solar Challenge.

The Sasol Solar Challenge is an exciting eight-day countrywide endurance challenge, demonstrating the sophistication and performance of solar-powered vehicles. The race takes place from 27 September to 4 October, and participants will cover a route of approximately 2 000km from Pretoria to Cape Town.

Previous solar challenge events which took place in 2008 and 2012 also attracted local participation from universities. These universities raced cars that incorporated home-grown technologies designed to promote and develop sustainable energy systems, especially applicable to future transportation needs.

Sasol has sponsored the event since 2012 and believes that the solar challenge is an ideal platform for the advancement of STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – amongst schools, universities, and the public at large. Conceptualising, designing and building a solar car ticks all the boxes of the STEM principles in that it provides a practical laboratory on wheels for the students.

“As a business, partnerships and mentorship programmes are of great significance for us. Partnerships advance technology and innovation, which we have seen first-hand in Maragon and DSJ further developing their donated solar vehicles. We are proud to see secondary institutions dedicating time to spark learner interest in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Richard Hughes, Group Sponsorship Manager at Sasol.

This year, the school teams will compete alongside nine university teams, six from South Africa and the remaining three from Turkey, The Netherlands and Cyprus.

UJ supports Deutsche Internationale Schule Johannesburg

UJ’s lecturer in mechanical engineering and event programme manager, Nickey Janse van Rensburg explained, “The donation of our 2012 car to Deutsche Internationale Schule Johannesburg (DSJ), allowed young learners to explore new technologies that make solar power a sustainable energy source.”

“The race creates massive interest from the public whilst providing a platform to train young engineers to work on large projects. These young minds can then apply their expertise in the area of research and development – a concept close to our heart and supported by our academic institution,” added van Rensburg.

The real winners in this process are the students, “Working on our solar car helped me realise that what we learn in our science classes at school can actually be applied in the real world. This project has given us a platform to apply what we learn in class to develop environmentally friendly technology in South Africa,” shared Manashe Kugara, DSJ scholar.

Maragon receives car from NWU

The Maragon Private School Olympus team, known as The Solar Eagles, will enter its Solar Eagle car in this year’s Sasol Solar Challenge.

Motivation for the school’s involvement was championed by team leader Marinda Jordaan, who has followed the World Solar Challenge since 2008. When the North West University’s 2012 solar car was offered on loan last November, the project was born.

“Maragon received a well-engineered vehicle body which over a period of 10 months was optimised by our enthusiastic Solar Eagles,” she said.

“Professor Albert Helberg of North West University acted as advisor and mentor to the school’s students and teachers, using the solar car project as a tool for education. The optimisation programme took the existing vehicle and made it better in every possible way.”

Students at Maragon School expressed that working on their solar car has given them an opportunity to learn about science, mathematics and technology in an enjoyable way.

Learners, students and the general public are invited to follow the 2 000km journey from Pretoria to Cape Town to witness the advancement of technology in motion.

For more information and to get behind your team, follow the Sasol Solar Challenge on Twitter@Solar_Challenge, like the Facebook page, and visit us at

Tuesday, August 30, 2016