Racing the Sun: ON Semiconductor Sponsors Solar-Powered Go-Karts Program for Arizona Students
From vehicle electrification to wide bandgap technology for solar power systems, ON Semiconductor is committed to providing innovative and energy-efficient solutions for the technologies of tomorrow. We are also dedicated to supporting educational initiatives that foster interest in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) subjects that play a vital role in developing the future workforce. Through grant making, our Global Giving program has supported a variety of unique programs, including a recent initiative aiming to develop the skills of youth by exploring the intersection between technology and sustainability. Not too far off from prototyping a sound solar-powered car, students from across Arizona were inspired to pursue a STEAM career by building their very own solar-powered go-karts with a sponsorship from ON Semiconductor.
In 2019, the Global Giving team provided a grant to support Racing the Sun (RTS), a program offered through the Southern Arizona Science and Engineering Foundation (SARSEF). As an award winning nonprofit, SARSEF strives to develop Arizona’s next generation of engineers and scientists by providing free STEM outreach to under-represented students in areas of poverty and rural communities. In their state of the art program, RTS, high school students from across Arizona learn to design, build and race solar-powered go-karts across nine months of team-building and collaboration.
Beginning in fall, 186 students hailing from Phoenix to Tombstone took part in this past year’s RTS program. By learning engineering design principles of solar energy along with its environmental impact, participants went on to create 20 solar go-karts. Workshops Days, the program’s first event, gathered the teams in Tucson, where a series of workshops introduced participants to topics covering mechanical and electrical engineering to fundraising. The next months consisted of developing electrical and mechanical drafts for the solar-powered karts along with Project Design Plans with guidance from teachers and mentors.
Throughout the design and construction process, students applied concepts related to engineering, applied physics and energy in order to assemble a working prototype. Team building and collaboration also prepared the participants with interpersonal skills to ensure success in the future workforce. Additionally, students can discover their career pathway by working with industry mentors and taking field trips to high tech companies. These experiences proved to be impactful with the students, who reported how Racing the Sun (RTS) increased their confidence and their interest in pursuing a STEAM career.
As Julie Euber, Chief Operations Officer of SARSEF, stated:
“So many of the students, particularly the female students, “found their power” - they discovered their place on the team, and just as importantly they found their voice, speaking up for alternative solutions and fighting for what they thought the right strategy might be. For many girls, this was new learning.”
Aligning with SARSEF and ON Semiconductor’s diversity goals, building leadership skills of young women is an important part of creating a future workforce that brings all voices to the table. Recognizing how fun and enriching an experience like this can be for new learners, teachers and program administrators are eager to integrate ideas from the classroom with novel engineering concepts as they are put into action.
Due to the challenges of COVID-19 this year, the final race day planned for March was suspended in order to ensure participant and spectator safety. Luckily, participants completed the educational aspect of the program prior to the go-kart race suspension, but it was unfortunate for the many students who were looking forward to the event. There are hopes for a rescheduled event in the future so the teams can finally put their solar-powered karts to the test.
ON Semiconductor believes exciting programs like RTS play a vital role in providing engaging STEAM experiences for students in addition to accelerating the pace towards a sustainable energy future. With supportive and committed nonprofits like SARSEF, Arizona is on the road to progress with inventive young minds leading the way.
Learn more about the exciting initiatives and programs taking place through Southern Arizona Science and Engineering Foundation (SARSEF).
For more information about how ON Semiconductor supports STEAM education through charitable giving, visit https://www.onsemi.com/about/foundation.