Unique sustainability-focused student organization gives business students the opportunity to develop practical skills
The following blog was written by Nikhil Kanukolanu for Business 305, a business writing course offered by the KU School of Business. Students were tasked with creating an effective blog post to communicate an opportunity in the business school to prospective students, current students, faculty and staff, alumni, donors, and anyone else who reads the School of Business’s blog content.
KU Solar Car is a student organization at the University of Kansas that develops solar powered vehicles to compete against other universities nationwide in solar car racing competitions. Their work raises awareness of clean energy and demonstrates technological efficiency using solar power. In the past, organizations like this primarily consisted of students from the School of Engineering, but Solar Car offers a unique experience for non-STEM students to participate in STEM projects.
What does the business sub-team do?
For any small business to succeed, the team should have a strong understanding of the logistics, outreach and marketing for their product. The business sub-team focuses on each of these to successfully promote the vehicle. The team is also tasked with creating a preliminary budget — this year the budget is $35,000. Because the car is expensive to build, fundraising is a vital part of the project. Students on the business sub-team regularly interact with faculty, staff and external sponsors to raise funds. Recently, KU Solar Car has started a fundraising campaign through LaunchKU, a crowdfunding platform that KU offers, in the hopes of raising $10,000.
To raise awareness for the car, the business sub-team also works to maintain a strong social media presence. The organization utilizes Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Flickr. The group also operates their own blog, posting updates on their progress and milestones.
Once the car is ready for the race, logistics play an important role. In the past, the race has been held in Austin, TX. Getting the car to and from the event is a very difficult task, and without proper logistics preparation, the vehicle can suffer damage during travel. This has happened to many solar car teams in the past.
Positive impacts for business students
The business sub-team works on projects that are directly related to finance, marketing and supply chain management. Because Solar Car essentially operates like a small business, the organization allows students to gain relevant, hands-on experience in their field. The business sub-team also gives regular presentations to faculty and external sponsors, giving students the opportunity to polish their public speaking skills. Business sub-team members also have the ability to run for leadership positions within the organization.
KU Solar Car provides non-STEM students the unique opportunity to regularly interact with STEM students. This provides valuable industry experience that will prepare students for their careers after graduation. Working with KU Solar Car can give any student the opportunity to grow and learn about how a small business operates.
How to join
KU Solar Car meets on Mondays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. in G415 LEEP 2. Interested students can come to any meeting to learn more about how the team operates. Visit KU Solar Car’s website to learn more about the team and keep up with their progress on the car.
By Nikhil Kanukolanu and Meaghan Boyd