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UC engineering formula car more sophisticated for big event

UC engineering formula car more sophisticated for 2014 international event

March 3, 2014

University of Canterbury (UC) students, who won the inspired engineering trophy at the international university design, build and race car competition in Melbourne last year, say their 2014 car will be much more technically sophisticated.

UC mechanical engineering students are aim to build a very competitive car to go with their wider-reaching and sophisticated new team.

The UC team designed and built their own racing car last year that clocked 0 to 100km an hour in under four seconds and carried out other tests to win the trophy in the competition. More than 500 universities compete in 10 competitions held worldwide. After last year’s Melbourne competition, UC is the top ranked rookie team in the world.

Team principal and mechanical engineering PhD student Tim White says the main difference to the team this year is the structure.

``Last year we just had final year students involved. This year in addition to final year students we are recruiting from the wider university.

``We need to have continuity and knowledge transfer between years so first year students that come into the team go through all the way to final year gradually taking on more responsibility.

``There is also a lot more to the competition than building a fast race car. There are components that require business cases, marketing plans, sponsorship proposals, communications and graphic design.

``Therefore we are recruiting from every college in the university. The team management structure is completely revised with the senior students in the team (some students from last year are now postgraduates) running it for themselves.

``As team principal, putting together a holistic team is what I see as being a huge part of us doing well at this year’s competition. We have also rebranded the team as UCM, short for University of Canterbury Motorsport.

``We will manufacture the vast majority of the car ourselves, far more than the average professional race team would. The more we make ourselves the better our score is in the design event. I would estimate 90 percent of the components will be made in our workshop.

``Some components that we will make ourselves during the year include wheels, suspension arms and uprights, brake discs, chassis, all aerodynamic components - wings and under tray as well as bodywork and inlet and exhaust manifolds.

``The parts are from local and international companies. A lot is so specialised it has to come from the US and UK but the raw material such as steel and aluminium is sourced locally. It’s a major operation. It took us roughly 10,000 hours to design and build last year,’’ White says.

The governing body of the organisation, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), has extensive safety requirements. Rules of the competition allow and encourage innovation more than any other form of motorsport anywhere in the world.

Industry seeks out graduates that have been part of Formula SAE teams throughout their degrees. These graduates are considered far more workplace ready than others.

In addition to the obvious advantages of hands on experience, it is the soft skills gained by being part of a large team in a complex project and liaising with many different stakeholders, be it sponsors, workshop staff and team management, that are sought after.


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