In the future, let’s hope, we’ll all drive pollution-free vehicles powered by the sun. Pleasant Hill native Chris Pentacoff is having fun building that future. The 21-year-old MIT student is part of a team that built Tesseract, a 375-pound, solar-powered, single- passenger car that averages 60 mph on a sunny day.
Pentacoff’s car recently placed sixth at the World Solar Challenge in Australia, a 1,800-mile race from Darwin to Adelaide.
Team Tesseract overcame a severe accident during qualifying. One of the car’s carbon fiber wheels broke, just as the driver was taking a fast turn. The car went airborne, then flipped and crashed.“We had an almost completely wrecked car, and we still did well,” says Pentacoff, a College Park High grad. “[The media] thought we’d never make it, but we proved them wrong.”
Pentacoff and his team have already started construction on a new vehicle for the 2007 race. “I have always enjoyed building,” says the aerospace engineering major. “You get a certain satisfaction from designing something and then being able to fix it. You know how it works and how to make it better.”