Student of the Week: Shah on road to success with solar car team


Angelina Liu

Coppell High School sophomores Aayush Shah and Shreyes Ram hold a solar car engine on Wednesday. Shah is the President of the CHS Solar Racing Team, in which he explores alternative energy sources.

Deepali Kanchanavally, Staff Writer

Coppell High School sophomore Solar Racing Team president Aayush Shah is passionate about many things, including researching the use of alternative energy sources in race cars and debating. The Coppell Solar Racing Team competes within American Solar Car, a competition that requires participants to build a two-seater car that can be driven in a race. Shah is also a member of Coppell Speech and Debate as a policy debater. 

Why did you decide to start the Coppell Solar Racing Team?

Last year, the club lost its sponsor. A couple of the seniors in the club tried to keep it alive. Not enough people joined the club, and they had to stop eventually. Ever since middle school [at Coppell Middle School East], I had followed the club, and it is a really cool opportunity. It offers more experience than you would get with other clubs. This year, I realized I could start the club myself. I made flyers and got some officers together, so I could restart the club. Eventually, the word spread, and we now have around 30 members. We are going to be racing in July of 2024 at Texas Motor Speedway. This year is about planning and building the car. 2024 will be about testing and improving the car. 

Why do you think this club is important?

More than just car skills, the club gives you experience on general engineering. All of our members are sophomores, juniors and seniors, and we don’t have people on the team with previous experience in the club. So, we are reading books about Solar Cars, and they are teaching us everything we need to know. At meetings, we discuss everything that we’ve learned from reading the books in the preceding few weeks. One example is that we are learning about rolling resistance and the physics of the car so we can figure out how to make the car as powerful as possible. Our design team is learning about Fusion 360 and SOLIDWORKS, so they can design a 3D model of the car before we build it. Our business team is learning about sponsorships and reaching out to businesses. They are also in charge of figuring out ways to represent the companies on our final car.

Have you been part of any clubs like this one before?

In Mockingbird Elementary and Coppell Middle School East, I was part of Future City, a program for students in sixth to eighth grade where they learn more about engineering through challenges, and Destination Imagination, an organization designed to encourage students to imagine and think while working together to solve problems. I haven’t been in any robotics clubs, but I do projects on my own. 

What has your debate experience been like?

I went to Coppell Debate Academy in seventh grade and started doing debate competitively last year, which is when we won the Newman Smith and Southlake tournaments. We got to finals in some competitions. This year we got to quarterfinals in Isidore Newman School Invitational and the tournament on the weekend of Jan. 14 against Plano. 

What are your goals for debate this year?

We want to do well at the Texas Forensic Association tournament. You can get to the Tournament of Champions if you have two bids, and we want to aim for at least one bid this year.

Why do you think debate is important, and how has it helped you grow?

A lot of times, high schoolers don’t really know how to research, and debate gives you irreplaceable skills about finding information or even going through 100 page documents and finding what you need. Policy debate deals with critical thinking, from understanding arguments and being able to counter your opponent’s arguments without much preparation time. The writing experience you get from writing cases and answers to arguments is a really useful skill in any field. I really enjoy the competitiveness and the rush. When you are in a round and time is flying by, you’re just in the moment. Outside of rounds, I like to research about finding ways to counter arguments and reading interesting news articles.


Follow Deepali Kanchanavally (@deepali0914) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.