ASCEND JOURNEY PART 3 – Preparation & Scrutineering

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Our time in Darwin has been both eventful and heart warming. To start the week Yiwei, wearing her Ascend T-shirt, visited a local church near Hidden Valley. The distinctive shirt made her recognizable, and to our delight, the church community extended their heartfelt prayers for our trip’s safety. Following the service, she formed a bond with a few local women, leading to a spontaneous adventure. Together, they wandered through the Darwin Sunday Market, taking in the vibrant atmosphere, and later sat back under the stars, enjoying a film at the deckchair cinema.

Amidst all this, a noticeable change occurred in our team leader, Matt Jennings. Surrounded by responsibilities and the hustle of preparations, he inadvertently grew a mustache. To everyone’s amusement, this unplanned change added a touch of gravitas to his appearance, making him look even more the part of a dedicated leader.

Our week was a mix of hard work and cherished breaks. Between the planning and preparations, we embraced moments of celebration and relaxation. The team took a refreshing trip to the Berry Spring Nature Park. There, amid the lush greenery and cool waters, the boys instigated a water-jumping challenge, pushing each other to come up with the most daring leaps. Food, as always, played a crucial role in our bonding. One evening, we indulged in Italian flavours at a restaurant in Darwin CBD. Another night saw us relishing the taste of Vietnam, as a Bami Van parked at our camp served us pork rolls and spring rolls.

Then came the demanding phase of scrutineering on Monday and Tuesday. Over two days, we faced a range of tests, covering everything from driving techniques to intricate details like vehicle weight and logo placements. Despite initial problems like a wrongly sized wire and misplaced logos, our team’s resilience glowed through. We addressed every challenge head-on and sailed through the second run with great success. Post this intense phase, a few of us indulged in a bit of retail therapy. Yiwei’s choice was an adorable crocodile toy from the Bridgestone merch shop, while Angus opted for a quirky beer holder. To cap it off, our divers, Bohan and Tahj, showcased their skills by completing the dynamic scrutineering test, mastering the figure 8 circuit in under 18 seconds.

Thursday’s Bridgestone Welcome BBQ was unforgettable. The aroma of grilled meats filled the air as teams mingled. Lachie, in particular, seemed to have a ball. He danced spiritedly with the individuals from the Canadian team. As the night progressed, their friendly banter evolved into meaningful conversations, and a deep-rooted fellowship developed between our teams. Meanwhile, Tehau had a blast conversing in fluent Italian with members of the Italy team, sharing stories and laughs.

Amid the race buzz, our students faced another challenge: exams. On Wednesday and Thursday, our mechanical students, with Yiwei among them, juggled between race preparations and crucial academic commitments. Luckily, the exams were a breeze and everyone aced it!!!!

By Friday, a wave of excitement gripped us. We welcomed Mick and Ben from Deakin University Head of Engineering School. Lachie’s parents also made the trip to Darwin to visit us. They acclimated quickly, even offering insights during our car tests at the Hidden Valley circuit. But, the day’s highlight was our car serving as a backdrop for Channel 7 news. The moment was made even more memorable as we mingled with teams like Blue Sky Solar from Canada. As night fell, we received exhilarating news: The solar cars from the teams Futuro Solare in Italy and the VTC solar car team from Hong Kong had finally arrived. The car’s arrival, after numerous challenges, was a testament to every team’s indomitable spirit.

On Saturday, we were visited by our sponsors from ACCIONA. This visit underscored the collaboration between Deakin Engineering and ACCIONA, demonstrating that innovation is best achieved through diverse talents coming together for a common goal. In addition, We aced our dynamic scrutineering tests, and anticipation hung heavy in the air. Every member felt a mix of excitement and pride, knowing that the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge was just around the corner. The hard work, the laughter, the challenges – all led to this moment. The open road beckoned, and we were more than ready.