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Managing Director – Zhe Gong

A message from Managing Director, Zhe Gong,

At the beginning of this race cycle, I felt excited and quietly confident. It was the beginning of something brand new which I would be able to steer with my own direction. In the present, nine months later, I still feel excited and I am still quietly confident, but I have also become calmly apprehensive. I have adopted a state in which I am always expecting new challenges to arise, and the expectation never goes away.

So what has happened to cause this change? The briefest explanation I can offer is that things happen all the time, and thus one should expect to have to face challenges over and over again. The design, construction, and racing of a solar car is a tough project to pull off in two years, and only tougher when the team consists mainly of undergraduate students who have almost no prior engineering experience. Small challenges are amplified and big ones become seemingly impossible. This is a tough fact to accept when one wishes to achieve great success, but it is one which must be accepted. Unless one is ready and willing to overcome whatever challenge they face, they will not reach the end goal.

What I am most proud of so far this cycle may come as a surprise to many: it is the achievement of a stably clean meeting table. In the workshop, we have one big table where meetings happen and computer work takes place. This table is notorious for being littered with scrap papers containing random notes and calculations, coffee cups, food containers, and other miscellaneous junk. Some time ago, I cleaned the table and then explained during one of our meetings that for the sake of peace and comfort in the workshop it would have to be kept clean from then on. To my great surprise, the table has remained clean, and I have not had to give more than 5 reminders about the expectation.

My goal here is not to give the idea that our team consists of messy people. It is understandable that a busy table will get messy over time, especially when many people are moving in and out of the workshop so frequently due to other commitments. The reason why I am proud of this is that to me, the clean table is a sign of a fundamental cohesiveness in thinking and behaviour amongst team members. It signifies that people have agreed to work together toward a beneficial result. With much of the core team so busy working full time jobs during the day and solar car at night, the clean table clearly shows that there is a high level of respect and problem solving capability between team members.

Every day, when I walk into the workshop for the first time, I am still somewhat apprehensive about the meeting table. I am anxious about finding it messy, back to its old chaotic state. In reality, the table is no longer left messy, and my apprehension for is constantly diminishing. But with the completion of this challenge, new ones have come which are tougher. All that I can do to reach the final goal is acknowledge these challenges, “put my head down”, and deal with things as they come. In the end, I am certain that we will have something great to show for our work.

 

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