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Stanford Solar Car Project was ‘key’ to Tesla’s inception, says Tesla co-founder JB Straubel

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In a documentary about the Stanford Solar Car Project, Stanford University’s team participating in the World Solar Challenge, Tesla co-founder and CTO JB Straubel describes the team has a “key thing” during the early days of Tesla Motors as he recruited his friends from the team to start the company.

Straubel, who holds a bachelor’s in energy systems engineering and a master’s in energy engineering from Stanford University, was part of Stanford’s team toward the end of his studies at the university.

The Stanford Solar Car Project participates in the World Solar Challenge, which consists of a solar car race across 3000 km (1864 miles) from Darwin to Adelaide through the desert in Australia.

Tesla’s CTO said:

“Solar car team’s technologies are often ahead of their time in term of looking at next best generation of batteries, best solar panels, best motors and converters, things like that.”

Straubel added:

“Most of my involvement with the solar car team was toward the end of my stay at Stanford. I had many friends that were part of that team throughout my time there and I recruited most of the people from the team, and we started Tesla. It was a key thing at the beginning of Tesla.”

He then explained how the project still affects the company and its recruiting effort today – 13 years after its founding:

“I think it matters more than most classes you can take. I mean it’s one of things that even today at Tesla we look at resumes and we consider higher than GPAs and perhaps even higher than what classes they decided here and there.”

Here’s the documentary starting from Straubel’s part:

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