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A man walks into a bar. Talks to a uni student.

A man walks into a bar. Talks to a uni student.

This chance meeting between University of Waikato, Mechanical Engineering student Isaac Hayes and a project manager for Big Boys Toys led to the University of Waikato Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team and their car landing an exhibition spot at Auckland’s Big Boys Toys last month.

“He just loved hearing about us designing and building a Formula SAE car, and thought we should be at Big Boys Toys with it. The stand was worth about $5000, and we got it for free,” says Isaac.

“We were in a hall full of muscle cars, street cars and other crazy automotive projects and so many people were interested in what we were doing.”

And what the team of 10 engineering students is doing, is taking their car to compete in the Formula SAE-Australasia competition in Melbourne from 12-15 December. Entries will be tested in static and dynamic events and the team spends the entire year preparing for it.

Static events include giving design, business and cost presentations, while the dynamic events include a range of quality tests such as scrutineering, brake, noise and a tilt test, and racing events including autocross (one lap on a track), endurance (30 laps on a track), acceleration and a skid pan event on a figure eight course against the clock.

“We have to run our team like a business and be accountable for our decisions,” says Isaac.

This year, teams from Auckland and Canterbury universities are also entered in the Australasian event. Last year there were 25 entries, with the Waikato team coming 13th to finish with a top-10 placing.

The Waikato Formula SAE team was formed in 2006. Each year the team builds an open wheeled singleseat-style race car to compete in Formula SAE. This car must comply with the rules outlined by the competition such as a maximum of 600cc engine, 20mm air inlet restrictor and limited track width and wheel base. This year’s team leader is Daniel Lamb who is a fourth year Mechanical Engineer.

Formula SAE is an international competition where university students design and build their own car. Competitions are held across the world, with over 900 hundred universities taking part.


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