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Solar car finishes Alberta tour

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The University of Calgary's solar car project has just finished its third tour of rural Alberta, driving the Schulich Axiom to small communities to educate Albertans about sustainable energy.

The Schulich Axiom is a 350-pound car that runs mainly on solar cells and rechargeable silicon batteries. It can travel at over 100 kilometres per hour.

The tour, beginning on April 30 and ending on May 4, took the team to eight main communities throughout the province.

They visited Sherwood Park, Big Valley, Fox Creek, Sundre, Cochrane, Barrhead, Sylvan Lake and Turner Valley.

According to graduated business student and communications manager for the solar car project Jodi Bengtson, the solar car is an interdisciplinary project that began in 2004, where students from many faculties gain practical experience.

Bengtson said there are currently 40 members from different faculties working on the solar car.

"It gets U of C students involved in a project that's hands-on, and we can use all of the skills we've learned as students," said Bengtson. "Students get an opportunity to do something in real life, and bring their classroom knowledge into a real project."

The car was designed and built by students, and was part of an international challenge in Australia last fall. It finished in the top 20 against cars from around the world.

The tour across the province will give the team a chance to test the car once again.

"Part of our project is to visit with students and the community to promote sustainable energy," said Bengtson, adding that the team goes to schools in Calgary twice a month. "This tour was a chance to be able to go across Alberta and see communities around the province."

Bengtson said her team believes this project will help spark ideas about sustainable energy and green practices.

"It's also very important to go into the community and support and teach about sustainable energy -- to get people's ideas and to get our own ideas about how we can use this technology and be smart environmentally," she said.

The project was funded by the Schulich School of Engineering and other corporate sponsors.

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