Imagine driving from La Crosse to Minneapolis without having to spend a penny on gas.
That's exactly what eight teams of college students did on Monday as part of the American Solar Challenge.
For the past week students have been driving solar powered cars they spent the last two years building. They started from Austin, Texas. On Sunday, the groups stopped in La Crosse. On Monday at about 9 a.m., they left from Western Technical College to finish the 1,800 mile trek in Minneapolis.
"The whole project is a learning experience because we actually apply what we learn in school to actually build our car,” said Yoann Arpin, who is racing from Montreal.
"Almost everything that is in your life right now that has been built in the last 20 years has been impacted by an engineer that helped build a solar car,” said Dan Eberle, jury manager of the American Solar Challenge.
While teams charged their cars in the Western parking lot on Sunday and early Monday morning, the public was able to get a closer look and ask questions.
"We see this as providing the educational opportunity outside the classroom, so this is not a textbook problem, this is not an answer that you can look up in the back of the textbook, it required multiple disciplines to work together," said event coordinator Gail Lueck.
On a sunny day, the cars can go about 55 mph without tapping into battery power.
The University of Michigan won its fifth national title in a row.
For more on the American Solar Challenge, visit americansolarchallenge.org.