Team Interviews: Mathijs Mariën
Mathijs Mariën is in his final year Electronics Engineering, specialising in in Intelligent Electronics at the University of Leuven at Campus Group T. At Punch Powertrain Solar Team, he is responsible for the Solar Panels of the Solar Car
What was your motivation to take part in Punch Powertrain Solar Team?
“In high school I was already studying Engineering Sciences and in my second year of high school I had already decided to study Engineering Sciences at university. This mainly because of the practical experience you receive, since I am someone that prefers to be working on projects ‘in the field’. From my first year at Campus Group T I had already seen the solar car quite often in the faculty atrium. I continued to follow the efforts of the different Solar Teams during my time at university and finally decided to apply for the current Solar Team. I chose different functions that had to do with electronics, mainly because of my field of study. In the end, they asked me if I was interested in being responsible for the Solar Panel department.”
What does your function entail?
“I am responsible for the Solar Panel and everything around it. This ranges from the solar cells over the electronic convertors to the diodes that are necessary to minimize the negative effect of shadow on the panels. At the start of the project, it is important to test as many different products as possible to see which are the best for the project and also which types of solar cells are the most efficient. That is also why we decided to buy our cells from a well-known producer. Apart from this, I also have to take the rules of the Solar Challenge into account, since we can only have a limited surface of solar cells on the car: either 6m² silicium or 3m² germanium.”
As you are in charge of such a key component, you are also working with different departments?
“In the beginning, I mainly work with the aerodynamics department. Together with them, we have to look if the panel can be placed on the car in the way that it has been purchased. During the build, I work with the High & Low Voltage and the Motor department to make the connections between the solar cells and the motor as optimal as possible. This way the car also uses its energy as efficient as possible.”
What is the most important thing that you have learned from this experience?
“First of all the knowledge I have learned on the topic of solar cells, as it is a good addition to my current field of study. Apart from that, you also learn how to work as a team and to deal with deadlines. Sometimes you have to work through the night to complete the deadline. You learn that each team member has his specific function and you learn to work together. This is is a unique experience, which has taught me a lot for the future.”