The CalSol Operations team conducted multiple interviews with organization leaders in an effort to show prospective members and sponsors who we are, what we do, and why we do what we do. Today, we would like to introduce you to our Mechanical Coordinator and Subteam Lead: Jorell Gotamco.

As a 3rd year studying mechanical engineering and material science, Jorell joined CalSol to gain more hands-on experience with major-related activities. That led him to the Mechanical Subteam.

“I just wanted to learn more and it had mechanical in the name, so I joined. Since then, the club has been one of the most interesting and relevant activities I’m interested in,” Jorell said.

Eventually working his way up to Mechanical Subteam Lead, Jorell is now in charge of the largest subteam in CalSol. The Mechanical team is broken up into the different systems of the solar car: shell, structure, suspension, brakes, steering, hubs, and batteries. Members learn, design, and cooperate in these teams, each of which is led by a project lead that reports directly to Jorell in weekly meetings.

After these meetings, the system teams split up in order to discuss more team-specific line items and do there best to address them. Frequently, these line-items are related to design reviews.

Said Jorell, “In terms of design reviews, we have multiple rounds starting from the preliminary one. The team comes together and presents their plans, we ask questions, and then the team readjusts. This process keeps repeating itself throughout the design process and eventually ensures that we build the best car possible.”

However, these design reviews serve a secondary purpose as well.

“A challenge we have had is knowledge transfer. When a member graduates and a new person takes up the task, there is always some stutter in the transition. It’s important we document these things on our design review presentations so that future members can understand what we were doing and make more progress,” Jorell said.

Other challenges Jorell listed included increasing the environmental sustainability initiatives within CalSol and organizing the facility where the club keeps and works on their cars. While CalSol still has much room for improvement as indicated by these challenges, Jorell credits the club for some of his own personal development.

“If I had not joined, there is a lot of content that I just would have never learned in class. I never covered how to design certain things and conduct analyses in class the way we do in CalSol, which is practical and valuable. There’s so much more that goes on in processes like manufacturing parts that I just haven’t learned in class yet.”

Also teaching Jorell team management skills and other soft skills, CalSol has helped the mechanical lead acquire unique practical skills that he says he would not have otherwise had. As an added bonus, some of Jorell’s favorite memories can be attributed to CalSol.

“When we were in Texas last year for the FSGP race, it was cool to see Tachyon do well on the track. There was this one relatively steep hill that solar cars would get stuck on and we were all waiting with baited breaths given that this was one of the first times driving Tachyon. Luckily, when Tachyon got to the hill, it went up and up and up and we were all like ‘Yes!!’” 

In conclusion, Jorell believes that CalSol is an incredible learning opportunity that allows you to create, collaborate, and compete among a diverse community of engineers. He plans to continue on with the club as an engineering director next semester.