Engineering Students Uphold Motor Sport Tradition
July 28, 2004
Engineering students plan to uphold kiwi motor sport tradition
New Zealand's proud tradition in motor sport has been given a youthful boost by a team of engineering students from The University of Auckland.
A team from the University's Faculty of Engineering will take on the world's best at the Australian Formula SAE competition held in Melbourne in December.
Formula SAE is a year-long competition which involves university teams throughout the world designing and constructing a formula style race car. The Auckland team is the first and only New Zealand team to compete in the event, which attracts teams from Australia, America, Japan and Europe.
The competition requires teams to design and produce a prototype race car costing no more than $50,000 Australian dollars.
The students have already mapped out the design, drawing on knowledge already gained for their Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering degrees together with expertise of members of the New Zealand motorsport community. The construction phase of the car has recently begun in the team's new Tamaki campus workshop.
Faculty of Engineering Dean Professor Peter Brothers says the team's entry in the event is a significant achievement.
"We are delighted to send New Zealand's first team to what is an extremely competitive and challenging event. The competition is not just a race - the cars have specifications to limit physical dimension and engine size to test students' knowledge, imagination and creativity.
"The University is behind the students all the way and we would like to encourage engineering and motor industry members to share their expertise and support the students as well," says Professor Brothers.
Team Manager and final year Mechanical Engineering student Chris Paykel says the team has been working hard to meet tight production and budgetary deadlines.
"We have big boots to fill as the organisers of the competition, the Australian Society of Automotive Engineers, are expecting a good performance from us based on New Zealand's record in racing.
"It's a test of true kiwi ingenuity and will also set us up well for our future engineering careers," says Chris.
Fellow student and the team's business manager, Jon Downey says the team will only be able to successfully compete in the competition with external funding support.
"We're thrilled with donations in cash and kind from local businesses that have already been generously donated, but we do need more sponsorship if we're to compete at the same level as some of the other international institutions.
"We still need to get some parts for the car and then there's a team of about 20 that will need to travel to the competition across the Tasman," says Jon.
The final evaluation of the cars will take place at a four day event in Australia in December. Teams will be given points for a presentation of their design and cost report and their car's performance in four dynamic events, including an acceleration test, skid pad test, autocross event, and a fuel economy and endurance test.
As part of their final year projects for the Bachelor of Engineering degree, many members of the Auckland team are researching cutting edge motorsport technology to build a knowledge base and advance New Zealand's high technology racing development. Projects include composite materials for chassis and suspension design, aerodynamics, onboard data acquisition, and engine development.
"Our aim this year is to make the top ten, claim the rookie of the year prize, and to establish a framework for future teams so that they can build a team to reach our long-term goal of winning the competition within five years," says Chris.