The sun sets for Team ASCEND on the 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge


As the sun sets on the 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, Deakin University’s Team ASCEND has proven itself to be the very definition of courage, resilience, and good humour – even when things didn’t quite go to plan. 

“Day four saw us attempt the gruelling Alice Springs to Coober Pedy leg,” said Deakin Technical Lead Nigel Petrie. “We were hopeful the weather gods would be kind to us, but a strong headwind played havoc on our battery consumption.”

The BWSC Cruiser Class stipulates entrants must complete set distances powered only by solar. Unfortunately, on day four of six, the wind hampered Team ASCEND’s best efforts, and the car ran out of charge only a stone’s throw from the next charging point.

By day’s end, all of the Cruiser Class entries suffered the same fate.

“The car and team performance have exceeded all of our expectations, and it has been a pleasure to see the student team realise their aspirations,” said Head of the School of Engineering, Professor Ben Horan. “I am confident that this experience will have a formative impact on their emerging careers as future engineers.”

Team manager and lecturer in Engineering Matt Jennings agreed:

“It was an amazing experience, and the breadth of skills required to participate in the challenge was broad. To see it come to fruition was inspiring. Particularly to see the teams’ resilience in facing whatever was thrown at them was the most rewarding part for me.”

Team ASCEND and their fellow competitors crossed the finish line this morning to complete their 3000-kilometre journey despite being officially out of the race.

“We congratulate Team ASCEND on their successful entry in the 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, and for making it more than halfway across Australia’s Red Centre as a first-time entrant,” said ACCIONA General Manager Brand and Marketing Caroline Boomes. “Being able to accompany the team as sponsor, and witness the blood, sweat and tears that have been shed this week highlights the immense endurance challenge that this event presents.”

Deakin’s Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Liz Johnson said the students and staff associated with Team ASCEND, during the Challenge, and in the four years leading up to it, can be proud of their achievements.

“To design, build, and drive a fully functional solar car is no mean feat,” Professor Johnson said.

“Thousands of hours of hard work and dedication by almost 1000 students across many different streams embodies what Deakin is about – innovation, teamwork, persistence and thought leadership.”

On behalf of the entire Deakin community, I congratulate Professor Ben Horan, Matt Jennings and all the students involved in the 2023 solar challenge.”