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Engineering students doing it Formula 1 style

9 October 2005

Engineering students doing it Formula 1 style

The University of Auckland's Formula SAE team competing in the Te Onpu Hill Climb event in Hawkes Bay as part of their warm up for theAustralasian Formula SAE Competition in Melbourne.

Formula 1 has the world's fastest racing cars, built with cutting edge technology and multi million dollar budgets. A team of engineering students from The University of Auckland is using some of the same technology but without the million dollar budget.

The Faculty of Engineering's Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team is one of only a handful of motorsport teams outside of Formula 1 to have a rolling floor wind tunnel.

Entered in the Australasian Formula SAE competition the team, who are New Zealand's only University to enter, have to design, construct and race a prototype race car, costing no more than $50,000 Australian dollars.

Up against 30 of the world's top engineering universities in Melbourne at the start of December the team is using the testing technology to help give them the edge over their competition.

"This is an amazing piece of equipment that Glidepath have kindly given to us and it will hopefully give us a significant advantage over the other teams," says Chief Engineer Matt Houston.

The team have already started testing a half scale model of their car on the 1.5m wide high speed conveyor belt in the University's twisted flow wind tunnel.

"The modified conveyor belt can travel at up to 50km per hour so we can use it to give us a better idea of what the wind is doing to the car as it moves," says Matt.

The testing will allow the team to improve the down force of the car, making it take corners at a faster speed.

Entering the competition for the first time last year the team finished 6th and picked up the best endeavour award for rookie of the year.

With last year's experience in the bank and other technology advances the team is aiming for first this season.

"We have made some other major advances with the car including the chassis. We've replaced the steel frame and constructed a carbon fibre monocoque chassis making the car a lot lighter and stiffer."

After the race in Melbourne the team hopes to compete in the USA and UK Formula SAE competitions in 2006.


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