Interview 7: Lander Hollevoet & Adriaan Buntinx

A new week, a new interview. This week, we are speaking with Lander and Adriaan. They are responsible for the production of the car and all logistic components which come with that. They are giving us an introduction in carbon fibers, tests and how the new rules of the World Solar Challenge may influence the shape of their car.

Gentlemen, welcome. Did you both study electro mechanics like the major part of the Solar Team?

Adriaan: I did.

Lander: I have a different background. I am studying civil engineering in chemistry.

How does a civil engineer end up with the Solar Team?

Lander: To make a long story short, I was working in the faculty bar of the industrial engineering students and psychology students. The engineering students asked me whether I was interested in joining the solar team. I already heard about the project but I didn’t know that civil engineers could join the team as well. When I realized that this was in fact possible, I didn’t hesitate and sent in my resume. One thing lead to another and that’s how I became the first and only civil engineer in the history of the Solar Team.

How did you get in touch with the Solar Team, Adriaan?

Adriaan: With me, it went like most other team members who studied electro mechanics. Campus Group T uses the Solar Team a lot for marketing purposes and the solar car is often exposed in the atrium. In the beginning, I thought it wouldn’t be possible for me to join the Solar Team since I am graduating in the wrong year. Then the team leader came to me to let me know that this was not a problem at all. The Solar Team is the ideal step between studying and working and I didn’t hesitate any longer to apply.

Was the function of production a conscious choice for you?

Adriaan: Not really, I applied for almost all technical functions with a certain management function. Yet the alumni thought production would fit me best. And eventually, they were right.

Which tasks does your function contain?

Lander: As the name “production” says, we are responsible for the entire production of the shell of the car and the reinforcement structure. On this structure, all other components, like the Solar panel, the engine and the suspension are attached.

From the people of the Aerodynamics department, we heard the rules for building your Solar car have changed strongly. Were these changes of any influence on your function?

Adriaan: For our function, these changes are not of big importance. These changes are more important for the people of Innovation and Aerodynamics because they make the entire design of the car.

Where do you start when you need to build the new solar car?

Lander: We always start with meetings with old team members from the previous year and also with our partners. From our partners, we learn a lot of other techniques exist than the ones we were taught. For example, there are certain techniques to lay-up the carbon which have only been developed recently.

Adriaan: We also start looking into which type of carbon we are going to use for the shell of our solar car. For that reason, during the first month, we are investigating the newest trends in the field of carbon fibers. From then on we also start testing each type of carbon fiber extensively.

Which factors are important when selecting the right carbon fiber?

Lander: Both weight and stiffness are important. For the solar car everything has to be as light as possible to drive as efficient as possible, but it cannot compromise the stiffness of the structure and the shell.

Adriaan: Exactly, because what can happen is a certain part of the shell starts fluttering due to the wind, which deteriorates the aerodynamics of the car and eliminates the gain in efficiency or make it even worse.

Lander: Eventually it’s also a matter of choosing the right price/quality ratio because we still have to watch our budget.

How do you like the entire experience up to this moment?

Adriaan: I see this as the perfect transition between university and the professional life. You certainly gain a lot of experience in a very short time for which you would have to work for several years. This is mostly thanks to our partners who teach us a lot in our specific domain.

Lander: Definitely! Besides this, it is also fun because we are already in the middle of the business life. Everybody sees the solar team as a small company where every one of us makes part of and has its own specific task. That is by itself a great feeling: you collaborate with equally motivated people to achieve a mutual goal.

That’s clear, thank you for the interview gentlemen! 

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