App State solar vehicle team basks in praise at victory celebration

BOONE, N.C. — Early Thursday, Aug. 19, Appalachian State University’s solar vehicle Team Sunergy coasted its Cruiser Class car, ROSE, into place in front of the B.B. Dougherty Administration Building on the university’s campus for a victory celebration.

Team Sunergy members presented App State Chancellor Sheri Everts with trophies won at the recent American Solar Challenge and Formula Sun Grand Prix. Everts lauded Team Sunergy, signed the cruiser car and announced plans for hosting the team at a ring ceremony — a first and considerable honor for the student-managed team that started in 2013.

“Team Sunergy competed with grace and finesse against elite universities — including MIT, University of California, Berkeley and Georgia Tech — in tests of skill, strategy, endurance and engineering expertise,” Everts said.

Team Sunergy Co-Business Director Sam Cheatham, left, and Co-Mechanical Director Jessica Navarro-Luviano, right, present their American Solar Challenge and Formula Sun Grand Prix trophies to Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts. Photo by Chase Reynolds

App State’s solar vehicle team has a history of success in international competitions against some of the world’s most elite institutions. In early August, Team Sunergy continued this tradition of success, blazing through the 2021 American Solar Challenge — finishing in first place for multiple-occupant vehicles, winning all three stages of the grueling road race, clocking nearly 965 miles and bringing home awards for teamwork and electrical design.

App State’s Chief Sustainability Officer Lee Ball thanked Everts for “lifting (the team) up from a student project to become the university-backed, institutionalized competition team it is today” and “for ensuring that their legacy and contributions to the solar racing industry will last.”

He also acknowledged the support of the Appalachian Community, noting that “these competitions have to be backed with institutional resources — faculty, staff, and sponsors.”

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Team Sunergy members Reid Kerr, driving, and Jessica Navarro-Luviano depart in ROSE for a victory lap around Appalachian State University’s campus and downtown Boone on Aug. 19. Photo by Chase Reynolds

Commending the team for its teamwork, Ball said, “The pride we all have for these amazing students is amplified by the fact that they were a rookie team who carried forward a legacy of success during a global pandemic. The desire to work together as a team with a common goal is really the heart and soul of Team Sunergy.”

Two of the team members — Sam Cheatham, co-business director for the team, and Jessica Navarro-Luviano, team driver and co-mechanical director — also spoke.

During the ASC, Navarro-Luviano, a senior from Mocksville, drove the car across one of the more difficult — but not the most difficult — climbs. In her remarks, she recounted that challenge, the team’s strategy to go slow and steady, and her personal takeaway — “that sometimes the challenges you anticipate aren’t all that bad. You may cruise at a speed of 5 miles per hour,” she said, “but you overcome.” She also shared her formula for winning: “First, round yourself up some incredible, supportive advisors. Then, some young adults with a heart for sustainability, a mind for learning, and with a little bit of stubbornness, you got yourself a winning team.”

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Appalachian State University Chief Sustainability Officer Lee Ball speaks at an Aug. 19 celebration event for Team Sunergy as Chancellor Sheri Everts applauds the team. Photo by Chase Reynolds

Cheatham, a senior from Mills River, said, “We turned the biggest obstacles into the biggest success that we could have achieved. We put our heads and hearts together to win one of the greatest sustainability challenges in the world.”

After the ceremony, Reid Kerr, a senior from Greensboro, took ROSE for a victory loop down the main street of Boone, across Rivers Street and back to ROSE’s garage on State Farm Road.

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Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts signs ROSE (Racing on Solar Energy), the multi-occupant passenger vehicle designed and built by the App State Solar Vehicle Team. Photo by Chase Reynolds

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App State's Team Sunergy wins big in US solar racing challenge — No. 1 in Cruiser Class

Aug. 12, 2021

App State’s solar vehicle team, Team Sunergy, swept the 2021 American Solar Challenge — finishing in first place for multiple-occupant vehicles (MOV), winning all three stages of the race from Missouri to New Mexico and clocking a total of 964.8 miles.

App State’s solar vehicle team takes Formula Sun Grand Prix 2nd place, qualifies for 1,000-mile road challenge

Aug. 5, 2021

App State’s solar vehicle team, Team Sunergy, captured second place in its class in the 2021 Formula Sun Grand Prix, qualifying for the American Challenge (ASC) road race — this year from Missouri to New Mexico. Follow Team Sunergy’s third ASC showing as they power west on sustainable energy Aug. 3–7.

About Team Sunergy

Team Sunergy is Appalachian State University’s interdisciplinary team of undergraduate and graduate students transforming solar-powered transportation. Its premier solar car, Apperion, gained national attention with top-three finishes in the 2016 and 2017 Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP), an international collegiate endurance competition that sets the standards for and tests the limits of solar vehicle technology. In 2018, the team’s second, Cruiser Class car, ROSE (an acronym for Racing on Solar Energy), placed third in the FSGP competition and tied for second place in the American Solar Challenge — an international solar vehicle distance road race held biennially by the Innovators Educational Foundation. Team Sunergy brings together students from a variety of majors who have a passion for sustainable transportation and the ingenuity, innovation and drive to create it. Learn more at

About Appalachian State University

As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

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