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06/30/1995 07:00:00

Inventor Paul MacCready to Speak at Caltech

Paul MacCready, the "father of human-powered flight," will speak at Caltech on the topic of "Electric Vehicles: Perspectives for the 21st Century," at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 8, in the Beckman Institute Auditorium. Admission is $15.00 for adults and $5.00 for students, with the proceeds going to the Caltech Y, the school's student activities office.

In his talk, MacCready will discuss the challenges of introducing electric vehicles into a marketplace dominated by gasoline-powered engines. He will address some of the promising new electric vehicle technologies and evaluate their strengths and shortfalls. MacCready will also talk about the expected demand for electric vehicles that will be created by the U.S. government's mandate that a certain percentage of new cars sold by the turn of the century produce no emissions.

MacCready is internationally renowned for his innovative designs of aircraft and energy-efficient vehicles. His engineering team designed and built the Gossamer Albatross, a 70-pound, human-powered aircraft that flew across the English Channel in 1979. In 1981 the rugged Solar Challenger, an aircraft powered by sunlight, flew 163 miles from Paris, France, to England. He collaborated with General Motors to build the GM Sunraycer, the solar-powered car that won a 1,867-mile race across Australia in 1987. More recently, he worked with GM on their prototype battery-powered sports car, the GM Impact, which was unveiled in 1990.

MacCready earned his BS at Yale and both his MS and PhD at Caltech. In the 1940s and 1950s, he won the U.S. National Soaring Championships three times, and in a 1956 soaring competition in France was the first American to become International Champion. Among his many honors and awards, MacCready won the Collier Trophy in 1979 from the National Aeronautics Association for the greatest achievement in aeronautics and astronautics in America, and the Inventor of the Year Award in 1981 from the Association for the Advancement of Invention and Innovation. He was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1991.