The Solar Knights Racing Team at South Plantation High School is working toward a national competition in Texas, one they've won before and hope to win again.
Matthew Medosky and his teammates spend most of their afternoons building robots and solar cars. Medosky has been part of the program for three years and serves as team captain.
"I love to build and fix things. Anything that's broken, I'm always there to try to fix it,” he said.
The Solar Knight III won 1st place in the advanced division at the Solar Car Challenge in 2011 after hitting a top speed of 58 mph. To fend off the expected competition in June 2014, the team needs more speed. New solar technology could add 12 mph to their car.
"These cells are already like five or six years old,” said Medosky. "It's our show car, so people like to touch it and that kind of starts deteriorating the cells.”
The team also takes the Solar Knight III on the road and shows it off to potential donors and sponsors. They need to raise $40,000 for the competition, and currently have about half that.
The Solar Knight parents do their part by selling burgers and drinks in the halls after school. On a good day, they make $133.
Meanwhile, students like Emily Terwilliger work on future designs and their academic future.
"We all work in a team here so it teaches us about teamwork. It teaches you a lot of things you can apply to the real world,” she said.
”I think the main goal is to get the kids involved with a big hands on project so they can learn and use their skills that they are learning in all their other classes,” said John Martin, a teacher who oversees the program.
Medosky, a high school junior, enjoys talking to others about the program.
"It helps me get out into the industry, get my name out into the industry, so then maybe schools like MIT and Berkley will come to me instead of me having to go to them," he said.