Gauteng pupils build solar-powered train and car


As SA continues to live in the shadow of load-shedding and petrol hikes, pupils from two Gauteng schools of specialisation – the Soshanguve Automotive School of Specialisation and John Orr Engineering School of Specialisation in Johannesburg – have built a solar-powered train and car respectively.

The pupils looked at the crisis the country finds itself in and came up with innovative solutions using solar energy.

The innovative projects were among creations by university students showcased at the Sasol Innovation Expo held at Carnival City in Brakpan, on the East Rand, on Thursday.

This made the schools the only ones that participated in the expo.

When Sowetan visited the Soshanguve Automotive School of Specialisation, north of Pretoria, on Friday, matric pupils showcased their amazing train called Modjadji, which is named after the late Rain Queen, Makobo Modjadji, who died in June 2005.

The blue train has mirrors, wipers and carpets.

It consists of four solar panels to power it up, a motor and a 46V battery that can run the train up to a speed of 60km/h.

Civil technology (construction) pupil Lethabo Nkadimeng, who came up with the idea to build the train in 2020, when he was in grade 10, said he was proud of the end-product as they had worked hard to put it together when time was not on their side.

“We had to carry both the co-curriculum and extracurriculum syllabus in a short time,” he said, emphasising that academically they had to perform above 90% to pass.

“The structure was manufactured and done by the mechanical engineering pupils while the electrical engineering pupils did the auto electrical work, which is the lights and wipers.

“The mechanical engineering pupils also had to connect the motors and all the wheels to run the train while the civil engineering pupils dealt with the wooden flooring and carpets,” said Nkadimeng.

He said he had known about the expo when he had an idea of building the solar-powered train but when they completed the project the school had entered it for the expo.

“It is amazing that we and John Orr are the only schools representing Gauteng schools,” he said.

“I really hope that in future the train can be used to advance the economy of the township as I believe it is a solution to the problems faced by our community. It will save money for commuters and at the same time contribute to growing the economy.”

“It's really excellent, a job well done to the team. The train is top class and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.”

The John Orr school's solar-powered car is named Panya-Panya.

Acting school principal Tladi Mashiane said a lack of finances had been a problem while the students were working on the project and that it had taken them two years to complete it.

“ Automotive items are very expensive so we had to compromise and go for a cheap motor in order to complete the programme in time," he said. He proudly said he wished more people could come and see the excellent work his learners were doing at the institution.

“The train is amazing, not to mention how it looks from the outside and inside,” he said.

– Sowetan

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