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Supporting the 2023 event


Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Alumni 2015

Coco Wong Headshot

Founder Adelaide University Solar Racing Team >>> Lead Developer Energy Products Tesla USA >>> Head of Ground Systems Zipline USA

2023 ROLE: Speaker, Team mentor, Scrutineering advisor (Darwin), Cruiser Judge Adelaide

While completing her double degree in Mechanical Engineering and Physics at the University of Adelaide in 2014, Coco founded the University’s first solar car team as part of her final year Honours project. The following year the team crossed the finish line in Adelaide. Here she networked with equally passionate advocates for sustainable energy solutions, including Tesla. The following year she was leading development of Tesla’s key energy products in California. During her five years at Tesla a highlight was returning home to South Australia to install the Hornsdale Big Battery in 2017. Coco now works at Zipline, where she leads the Ground Systems Engineering team.

‘My career with Tesla really started at the finish line of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. I met some of their Australian employees who were also event alumni who shared my passion for growing the sustainable energy industry. About a year later following a successful referral process and many long interviews, I was in San Francisco working at Tesla.



Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Alumni 2013Jay Manley

Founding member & team lead Western Sydney Solar Team >>> Tesla Critical Programs Manager USA >>> Engineer & entrepreneur passionate about increasing Australia's part in sustainable energy & manufacturing

2023 ROLE: Cruiser Judge Adelaide

Jay describes his role in leading a team of around 40 incredible volunteers responsible for the operation, design, and construction of an ultra-light solar car for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge as similar to running a small technology start-up. He was involved in all aspects of the organisation and built each section from the ground up with his team.

He stayed on with the WSU solar car program supporting and developing advanced student engineering and STEM opportunities before heading to the US to work with Tesla as – Jay has just returned to Australia after eight years in program management for Energy Design Engineering taking products from Powerpoint concepts to production.

‘Originally, I left Australia for the Tesla in the US because I thought I couldn’t get a more compelling job at home. Now it’s a bit on me and my fellow returned expats to contribute to creating and highlighting compelling jobs here. The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is a part of that conversation.’



Ian Girard HS

Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Alumni 2011, 2013

Stanford Solar Car Mechanical and Battery Team >>> High Voltage Battery Design Engineering Tesla USA

2023 ROLE: Scrutineering Advisor Darwin

In 2011, during his final undergraduate year studying mechanical engineering, Ian joined Stanford Solar Car and discovered a passion for engineering that had been lacking in classes. The experiences building and racing a solar car led to an internship working on high voltage battery design Tesla after the BWSC. For the 2013 solar car, he played a prominent role in mechanical design, including the high voltage battery and door mechanism. Stanford achieved its best-ever finish in the 2013 Challenge, and Ian's solar car experiences enabled him to secure a full-time position at Tesla.

“Solar cars were the cutting edge of electric vehicle technology and gave me experience designing high voltage batteries at a time when driving a car with batteries was considered impossible. I ended up being hired by Tesla as a battery design engineer because of my experiences with solar car and I have helped design parts for every vehicle battery since Model S.“



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Driver UKZN Solar Car Project South Africa >>> Propulsion System Design Engineer at Dawn Aerospace

2023 ROLE: Event Scientific Faculty /Cruiser Judge Adelaide

Design Lecturer and consultant engineer for the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Fiona was a driver and co-project manager for the first African team to compete in the World Solar Challenge.  Passionate about the advancement of space systems she went on to complete her PhD in small satellite propulsion, space systems engineering, and renewable energy systems while establishing her career in design, modelling, and testing of chemical propulsion systems, specifically hybrid rocket and solar thermal propulsion systems.

The World Solar Challenge was an unforgettable adventure. The real-life challenges of logistics and project management across 3,000 kilometres of Aussie outback really enhanced my project management experience and ability to meet critical deadlinesI’m looking forward to my role on the Scientific Faculty for this year’s event and to see how teams interpret regulations and push boundaries”



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Co-team manager UKZN Solar Car Project South Africa >>> Senior Engineering Fellow CERN Geneva

2023 ROLE: Event Scientific Faculty /Cruiser Judge Adelaide

In 2015, mechanical engineering graduate Kirsty was completing her PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal where she was also co-managing Africa’s first solar team entry in the World Solar Challenge. Now a Senior Engineer at CERN she works across high-tech fields, such as aerospace structures and composite design.

 The World Solar Challenge is the F1 of solar car competition. The size, scale, and complexity of this event, along with the design challenges, enabled me to grow workplace competencies and enhance my project management and engineering experience. It was an unforgettable adventure and I’m very much looking forward to the view from the other side, as part of the Scientific Faculty. 


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Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Alumni 1993, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2019

Michigan, Aurora and ATN >>> Senior ADAS Attribute Performance Engineer at Ford of Australia and part-time PhD Student at RMIT University


One of the BWSC’s most experienced competitors, Andris has competed in eight Solar Challenges with three different teams including the Aurora Vehicle Association, a non-profit group of volunteers dedicated to promoting sustainable mobility. Aurora is the only Australian team to win the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge outright.  Andris continues to share his considerable solar-electric and automotive safety knowledge with the Event by mentoring students, providing technical advice to Faculty and judging.

The World Solar Challenge is the ultimate proving ground for the talent and technology of tomorrow.  You get to test, improvise, collaborate, celebrate, and commiserate all in one adventure. Sustainable mobility is achievable and BWSC competitors, both past and present, are leading the way."



John Federspiel (002)

Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Alumni 2007 & 2009

Crew Chief/Engineering Director University of Michigan Solar Car team >>> Sr. Director of Starlink Product Engineering at SpaceX

2023 ROLE: Cruiser Judge Adelaide

John’s trajectory from the BWSC led to SpaceX, where John was responsible for many of the systems of the Crew Dragon spaceship including the avionics bay, the solar arrays, and the spaceship interior. More recently John leads product and production line development at Starlink. Starlink delivers high-speed, low-latency internet almost anywhere in the world and is engineered and operated by SpaceX. As the world’s largest provider of launch services, SpaceX is leveraging its deep experience with both spacecraft and on-orbit operations to deploy the world’s most advanced broadband internet system.

"Our team had a saying - you can have a social life, get good grades or do solar car. Pick two. The event encourages, celebrates, and motivates. It inspires a work ethic in many that propels careers. It’s a unique proving ground for students – testing uncharted tech and theories in difficult environments. When you’re faced with a challenge and there’s nothing in the textbook, you have to figure it out for yourself.”