DEARBORN (WWJ) – Veterans from 25 years worth of solar car programs gathered at the Henry Ford Museum to see the unveiling of the University of Michigan’s latest solar-powered vehicle, The Aurum.

“I think it’s a very competitive vehicle,” said Freshman Clayton Daley, a member of the 75 person team. “It’s been performing how we expected. Hopefully it keeps doing what we expect it to.”

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The vehicle will be raced at an October event in Australia.

The University of Michigan has a history of building successful solar-powered vehicles. It’s original 1990 model is on display at the Henry Ford Museum.

The driver of that vehicle, Paula Finnegan-Jones was on hand for today’s ceremony.

“Looking back 25 years it seems like we really started something,” she said.

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Finnegan-Jones, who’s an electrical engineer, says she didn’t fully comprehend the ground they were breaking at the time. But, there’s a lot she was able to take away from the experience.

“The spirit of optimism,” she said. “The spirit of doing things that weren’t done before. Kind of a ‘you can do anything if you put your mind to it’ kind of attitude.”

Many of those involved in the Solar Car program say–for engineering students–it’s like being on a sports team.

Undergraduate Ian Larsen has stuck around six years, mostly to be a part of this program.

“I keep delaying graduation so I can keep racing solar cars. Everyone ends up working in a job at some point. Not too many people can say they’ve raced solar cars multiple times through Australia.”

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