SMUD partners with ARC for solar car race


A high school student at puts the finishing touches on his solar car at SMUD solar car competition on May 6.

Jordan Schauberger

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) hosted its twelfth annual solar car race for local high school students at American River College on Friday.

The event is a partnership between SMUD, ARC and the Solar Schoolhouse Project that focuses on education pieces centered around the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.  

SMUD public information officer Jonathan Tudor said that SMUD employees from the Energy Technology Education Center work on events like this one to educate the community on energy.

“There are a bunch of pieces there – energy efficiency, solar technology and sustainability,” Tudor said. “All of that is part of broader mission by SMUD to improve our community.”

Tudor said that this specific event is also seen by SMUD as a way to educate youth.


“It benefits us because we want people to have training in technology, engineering and math to come work for us,” Tudor said. “The other part is that we want to help the Sacramento community grow.”

ARC public information officer Scott Crow said the college is “proud” to partner with SMUD.

“This event is a great opportunity for local high-school students to get hands-on experience in an innovative, fun, and competitive environment,” Crow said. “With science and technology education more important than ever today, we applaud SMUD for supporting this annual celebration of solar-powered creativity.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Most students like Nick Rebholtz, a sophomore at El Camino high school, created unique designs for their solar cars.

“We cut out the bottom of the styrofoam for weight reduction,” Rebholtz said. “We thought it’d be lighter than the wood board.”

Many of the students solar cars had trouble getting going because of the dark cloud cover.

“It went a little bit on it’s own but then it just stopped,” Rebholtz said. “Hopefully we can get the sun to come out because it does go quick in the sun.”

Brian Tompkins, a teacher at El Camino, has been bringing his students to this event for “the last five years,” but has been building the solar cars with SMUD for “probably ten to 15 years.”

“It’s a nice annual tradition,” Tompkins said. “We took the championship in 2011.”
“We’re in a class called pre-engineering and this is one of our projects that we’re doing,”  McGinnis said.