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Mechanical Engineers Swim In Awards at Solar Splash 2021

Solar Splash is an annual solar boating competition for undergraduate students. The goal is to design and manufacture a solar powered boat capable of performing in speed, maneuverability, sprint and endurance events. The emphasis on solar energy allows students to learn about a more sustainable form of energy for transportation purposes. This year, 9 teams from across the US and Puerto Rico competed in-person at Clarks County Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ohio.

The 2021 TCNJ Solar Splash team was composed of 4 senior mechanical engineering students: Daniel “DJ” Johnson, Eliza Sweet, Lauren DeSimone and Christopher Taylor. The team advisors were Dr. Norman Asper, Regina Cadillac and Dr. Karen Yan.

Dr. Asper, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, introduced TCNJ to Solar Splash in 1994 in an effort “change the image of, then, Trenton State College because we were just a little school on the east coast, so I thought I could expand that even further if I went even further.” He mentored the first TCNJ Solar Splash team in 1999 and 22 years later, Dr. Asper continues to play a major role in the team’s success.

Our TCNJ team received 4th place and came home with 7 total awards including Outstanding Solar System Design, Outstanding Drivetrain Design, Most Improved Team (from 10th place in 2019), 3rd place in the 300m Sprint Event, 2nd place in Outstanding Technical Report and 3rd place in Best Video Presentation. A link to the team’s video can be found here.

The video presentation is a new component for Solar Splash introduced just this year. As such, the team did not have any previous submissions to reference. According to Eliza, originally they edited their video to focus mainly on the technical-based content. In the end though, they felt that they could create a stronger video that could be appreciated and understood by larger audiences if they focused on the nontechnical areas. She says that, “after awards were announced at competition, our team watched the other winning videos and discovered that they both focused on the technical aspect of their boat. We were very proud to perform so well while having a completely different video focus.”

Congratulations to DJ, Eliza, Lauren, Christopher, Dr. Asper, Ms. Cadillac and Dr. Yan on all of their trailblazing, success and hard work! This is a splash TCNJ will never forget.

-Anisa Lateef ’22


Solar Splash 2021Christopher steers the TCNJ team’s solar powered boat.

Solar Splash 2021TCNJ Solar Splash Team 2021 with their finished boat at Solar Splash 2021.

Solar Splash 2021(Left to Right) DJ, Christopher, Eliza and Lauren accepting 1 of the team’s 7 seven awards.

Solar Splash 2021TCNJ boat in action in Springfield, Ohio.



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