AMES — One hundred twenty Iowa State University students are putting the finishing touches on the world’s first Solar Utility Vehicle. Named “Penumbra,” this solar-assisted electric vehicle has been made to change the paradigm of transportation.

During the month of June, members from PrISUm (the ISU student organization that manufactured the car) are traveling to all 99 counties in the state of Iowa to showcase the vehicle. #SunRun99 will be stopping at the Forest City YMCA from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Thursday, June 8.

“During this time, everyone is welcome to check out this vehicle and even go for a quick spin,” said Smeet Mistry, Team PrISUm’s tour contact.

Like most vehicles found in dealerships across the state, Penumbra contains four seats and features Bluetooth audio and wireless charging for cell phones, Mistry said. Where the differences begin is how Penumbra is powered. Instead of having a gas or diesel tank, Penumbra receives its energy from the sun.

As the vehicle drives across the state, the sun recharges the onboard batteries. Fully charged, Penumbra has a “best in class” 200-mile range. On a sunny day, a constant speed of 40 mph can be achieved without any energy from the batteries. Once Penumbra completes #SunRun99, the vehicle will be flown to Australia to compete in the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

Interested in learning more about the vehicle, team or renewable energy? Be sure to stop by the Forest City YMCA on June 8, said Nicole Renner, Hancock County Youth Coordinator said.

“YMCA in Forest City is pleased to partner with the #SunRun99 tour through the #99CountyCampus,” said Bruce Mielke, CEO of YMCA in Forest City.

“ISU Extension and Outreach carries Iowa State’s land-grant mission throughout the state -- everywhere for all Iowans. We serve as a 99-county campus, connecting the needs of Iowans with Iowa State University research and resources. We provide education and partnerships designed to solve today’s problems and prepare for the future,” said Lauren Helgeson, Winnebago County Youth Coordinator.

In addition, Winnebago and Hancock County ISU Extension and Outreach offices, as well as the YMCA in Forest City, are partnering together to offer a youth educational event, Solar Energy Day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 8.

Solar Energy Day is for children between 3rd and 5th grade. This interactive event will not only include learning about the car and the team, but will also dive into renewable energy as they make solar pizza box ovens after enjoying pizza for lunch.

They may also have a once in a lifetime opportunity to drive in “Penumbra,” the world’s first Solar Utility Vehicle. There is no cost for this event for children, which was made possible by the additional sponsorship of Eric Kingland with Kingland Construction and Tom Hurd with Spatial Designs Architects.

Space is limited for Solar Energy Day. Reserve your child’s spot by contacting the Winnebago or Hancock County Extension Offices at 641-584-2261 or 641-923-2856.


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