24 November 2014
A USC scientist will tour local schools to show students the Snowsailer, a futuristic looking, eco-friendly snow vehicle that he will travel in on his next Antarctic adventure.
USC Lecturer in Science and Engineering Dr Adrian McCallum is part of the ‘Outer Edge Polar Challenge – Ride for Leukemia’ that will snowsail across Antarctica to the South Pole and back in December/January.
A specialist in remote area science and engineering, Dr McCallum is passionate about science, technology, engineering and maths education and hopes he can inspire students to study those subjects at school and university.
“I want them to understand that scientists don’t just work in labs. My work has taken me across the Arctic, the Himalayas and Antarctica”, he said.
“My passion is to empower students to follow their dreams, to grasp their future with both hands and to get out there and make it happen.”
Dr McCallum said the Snowsailer has been designed to break world records and looks like a cross between a small spaceship and a sail board but with snowboards on the bottom and solar panels on top.
“Nothing is guaranteed on this trip – this is the first time that such a vehicle has been used,” he said. “But if things go to plan, we hope to cover almost 4,500 kilometres and show that wind-powered travel is a viable and environmentally friendly means of transport on ice.”
Dr McCallum will also gather data on ice and snow thickness by towing a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) behind the Snowsailer and he also hopes to monitor the ‘health’ of both vehicles and personnel throughout the journey using smartphone apps.
“On the Outer Edge Polar Challenge we hope to push the boundaries of what’s possible and also challenge the world ice-sailing speed record, but that’s a bonus. Our plan is to proceed safely, demonstrate the concept, obtain valuable scientific data and raise crucial funds for the Leukaemia Foundation.”
Dr McCallum will visit as many Sunshine Coast schools as he can from 1-5 December.
— Jane Cameron