Our second-year Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Design students did a practical experiment to see which types of vehicle travel through water as well as they run on roads.
The competition saw 190 students working in teams of three to four to design, build and test a successful amphibious vehicle. Their vehicles had to traverse the water obstacle course in less than 40 seconds and weigh in at less than 450 grams.
The purpose of the project is for the students to model and physically realise engineering systems, to manufacture working prototypes and to assess their vehicle’s performance.
And, as you can see from the video, it’s about enjoying the process too!
The world’s largest student engineering design competition is back. We spoke to Engineering student Harry White about the Formula Student project and being a part of the Bristol Electric Racing team
Formula Student is a long-running international competition where the best engineering students across the world design, manufacture and race open-wheeled single seater formula styled vehicles. The vehicles produced by some of the top teams are truly astounding feats of engineering, with some cars able to accelerate from 0-60 MPH in under 1.5 seconds! The big finale is the head-to-head race at Silverstone, where the teams battle it out to find the overall winner.
Chief Engineer, Harry White, explains the uniqueness of this project: “This competition is one of the best opportunities available to university students to experience a complex, real-life engineering problem that requires analytical thinking, design and team work.”
“It allows students to develop important skills that may be less focused on in a classical engineering degree, such as business, marketing and cost analysis.” He continues “We’ll be working hard towards developing our business and marketing case, with the goal of ranking amongst the top teams next year.”
This year’s team are currently building their first car to compete at the 2019 competition. Harry updates us on their progress: “We have most of a rolling chassis, with only a few modifications still required to produce a product that fundamentally works. The next steps this year will be to develop the powertrain, which is no small task, and to continue developing the rolling chassis until the car can drive under its own power. From there the next task will be an extensive testing and commissioning stage. There’s a significant difference between a car that can move and a car that can race.”
One of the great benefits of the project is for the students to work equally as part of team, with all members having the opportunity to contribute significantly to the design. As Harry points out: “There’s a lot of design involved with creating a car from scratch, and this means that younger members of the team can contribute in a way that would be almost impossible in more established teams.”
Importantly, there’s the social aspect of the project: “Working as part of a dedicated team, all focused on achieving the same goal, leads to a tight-knit group of friends, between different years and courses; a social dynamic that is difficult to find elsewhere.”
As Harry sums up: “Formula student is an amazing opportunity that gives real engineering experience and is as rewarding as it is demanding; at Bristol Electric Racing there is the opportunity for anyone who is motivated enough to do great things.”