Team Interviews: Ruben Dhondt
Ruben Dhondt is in his final year of Engineering Sciences at the University of Leuven at Campus Group T. Together with his colleague Lukas Fierens he is responsible for the High and Low Voltage of the Punch One at Punch Powertrain Solar Team.
What was your motivation to take part in the Punch Powertrain Solar Team?
“Since high school I was always interested in technology. It was during my studies of Sciences-Mathematics that I came across a movie clip on the Solar Team. At that moment I was studying in Ostend, but was able to convince my parents to do a shift year to Campus Group T for my Master in Electronic Engineering Sciences. I came to Leuven especially for the Solar Team. When I saw all the advertisements and movies regarding the Solar Team, one thing became clear: you saw that they were working as a team towards a common goal. If there is one thing I would want to do, it would be this project. I applied and was eventually selected for the Solar Team.”
Your colleague Lukas told us that he was doing the component High Voltage and you were doing the Low Voltage. What is the difference?
“Low Voltage means that I work on all the electronic connections in the car. This contains the steering wheel, the control circuit and the electronic systems that can be found in the cockpit, ranging from switches to displays and the security measures for the pilot. In the beginning this is very graphic. First we design the system that we would implement in the car and afterwards we draft a plan. This is presented to former Solar Team members that have done this department to get some more tips and insights. Once the plans are perfected we send these to the people at the World Solar Challenge to get approval. Only when they approve the plans, we can start implementing them.”
So there are strict security measures?
“Certainly! You are still working with electricity and since the car is made out of a very conducting fabric, you have to make sure that the pilot is safe in his cockpit. The best example is the necessity of an emergency stop to shut down all the different electrical systems in case of an emergency. Furthermore we get a checklist from the World Solar Challenge with all the electrical elements that have to be present in the car. This will be checked again once we are in Australia by a jury after our first test drive.”
What are the important things that you have learned from this experience?
“You learn to think in a problem-solving manner. Sometimes things just don’t go as you planned them. Because of this, planning has to be changed sometimes. You learn to work together as a team to solve these problems. This will also help my later career as I would like to be an electrical manager later and at Punch Powertrain Solar Team, I am already learning the necessary skills.”