Team ASCEND ready to race at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge launch


On World Environment Day, Deakin University’s dedicated engineering students have made their way to Adelaide, South Australia, with ASCEND – their student-designed and built solar-powered car, to celebrate the launch of the 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC).

Alongside 43 student-led teams from 23 countries, as well as industry partners, entrepreneurs and advocates for a more sustainable future, Deakin’s 20-member race team will be the only Victorian team competing when the race kicks off in October.

Event Director, Chris Selwood AM, said this year’s challenge will deliver one of the most geographically and culturally diverse fields in the event’s history.

“Included in that field is the exciting new team ASCEND from Deakin University, the first Victorian team to compete in a decade,” Mr Selwood said. “They will join 10 other teams in the Cruiser Class, designing solar electric vehicles to bring the green to the mainstream.”

The BWSC is a design competition to discover the world’s most efficient electric car. The race stretches 3000-kilometres from Darwin to Adelaide and involves teams of tertiary and secondary students across various classes.

Entering in the Cruiser Class, Deakin students were challenged to not only design a vehicle they would like to drive daily but one that is as sustainable as possible in design and construction. 

ASCEND is an innovative, aerodynamic car capable of traversing central Australia’s rugged terrain that looks and feels as comfortable in the outback as it would on a city street – and powered only by the sun.

The body of the car has been 3D printed, eliminating the need for wasteful moulds, and the doors and stringer are made of basalt fibre for strength and stability.

The Cruiser’s end goal is to deliver a practical, energy efficient, marketable solar electric car and will be judged on criteria including payload, energy consumption and a subjective element of ‘practicality’.

ASCEND Solar Car Project Manager and Deakin University School of Engineering lecturer, Matt Jennings said:

“The project provides the opportunity for students to experience the whole value chain of engineering from identifying the design objectives to delivering a system to a high standard, and all the work and thought required along that journey.”

Principle sponsor of the ASCEND vehicle ACCIONA Energía has partnered with Deakin to demonstrate to Australians how far renewable energy has come.

“We’re incredibly proud of the work by students from Deakin,” said ACCIONA Energía Managing Director Brett Wickham.  “This partnership has been a great opportunity for students to apply their lessons to the real world and we hope it will encourage more students to consider careers in renewable energy.”

Head of Deakin’s School of Engineering Professor Ben Horan said it has been inspiring to see the students and car progressing alongside each other.

“Engineering Innovation in regional Victoria has long been a part of the fabric of Deakin University, and we are extremely proud to have partnered with ACCIONA Energy to bring the ASCEND team to the 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Car Challenge. We are humbled to be representing Victoria as the only Victorian team participating this year.”