A MESSAGE FROM THE CHANCELLOR | AUGUST 5, 2015
As many of our new and returning students are getting organized for convocation and a busy fall semester, Appalachian State University’s Team Sunergy is racing their solar vehicle, Apperion, in the American Solar Challenge. The eight-day, 1,975-mile road course travels through seven states from Brecksville, Ohio, to Hot Springs, South Dakota. To celebrate the National Park Service Centennial, race organizers have created a route that will include stage checkpoints at nine national parks, historic sites or partner properties throughout the Midwest.
This is the first time a North Carolina solar team has competed in this race and we placed third in the qualifying race on July 28. Go Mountaineers!
I am very proud to report Appalachian’s solar vehicle team is the only North Carolina team in the competition and the only team in the South to qualify for the American Solar Challenge. Our team members represent a variety of majors – from physics to music industry studies – and, as noted on their Team Sunergy website, “are motivated by a commitment to sustainability and a desire to capture the attention of young learners and inspire them.” Certainly, both of these aspirations are uppermost in our vision for the university.
Team Sunergy is as diverse as our university’s student profile. The team includes international, graduate, undergraduate and nontraditional students – led by Dan Blakeley, former U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion veteran and a graduate student pursuing dual degrees in engineering physics and sustainable technology. Our faculty advisors are an interdisciplinary team as well. It includes Dr. Jeremy Ferrell, professor in the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment; Brad Johnson, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy; and Chris Tolbert, an adjunct instructor for technology education. Cheering them on from the sidelines is interim director of the Office of Sustainability, Dr. Lee F. Ball Jr.
In 2015, Appalachian’s team entered the race but did not qualify to race on the track. This year, in a classic “come from behind” story, our Appalachian team, racing against 15 others, surpassed colleges and universities with world-renowned engineering programs to land a podium spot in the international competition.
Mountaineer grit saw Team Sunergy through the grueling scrutineering phase, dog-day July heat on the track and in the cockpit, thunderstorms, mechanical malfunctions and a complex log of racing rules and regulations. Ultimately, the team supporters on the scene said it came down to smart strategy, preparation, teamwork and determination – a true Appalachian story. Follow along at appstate.edu.
“I honestly think we have some of the best students at Appalachian State University on this team,” said Blakely. “They are already making sure we are ready for the next event. That’s what they do – they constantly look to see how we can be better as a team and also how they can help others. If we had broken down on the side of the road today and didn’t make it to stand on the podium, I wouldn’t care, because we still did everything we came to this race planning to do.”
As your chancellor, I would like to echo Blakely’s comments and I challenge our new students and faculty, and all of the Appalachian Community, to embrace the Apperion team’s attitude and enthusiasm. Let us “constantly look to see how we can be better as a team and how we can help others.”
Sheri N. Everts
At Appalachian, we put students first, always, and together we are building a bright future. Ultimately, the reason Appalachian’s stellar faculty and staff come to work every day is to realize this vision.