Building Future Cities: FIRST Alum Tina Li on What Building Solar Cars Taught Her About Renewable Energy


FIRST alumni know the thrill of working on a team, with limited time and resources, to complete an exciting design challenge – and the valuable skills that come from that effort.

That’s why Tina Li, a FIRST alum studying computer science and mechanical engineering at Stanford University, joined Stanford’s World Solar Challenge team. Li and her teammates (including other FIRST alumni) designed and built a solar-powered car the qualified for the prestigious annual race across the Australian Outback: 3,000+ km (or more than 1,800 miles) from Darwin to Adelaide. Li said the experience has shown her how renewable energy and electric cars are the future. “I was honestly amazed at how efficient these cars are,” she said.
FIRST: This year’s FIRST theme is all about building sustainable cities for the futures. What insight has your experience given you about the possibilities of solar energy and cleaner vehicles?

LI: It blows my mind that with just the sunlight, we can go a steady 60 kph forever without having to pay for any gas. Sure, it’s pretty uncomfortable, and sunshine is a hard requirement, but with increasingly efficient battery technology and solar cells, renewable energy and electric cars are definitely the future in my opinion.

Read more on the FIRST Inspire blog.