What many people may not initially realise is that Formula SAE is primarily a management competition, particularly with respect to human resources. We perform analysis of the competition to assess the value of power, weight, tyre grip and aerodynamics, and what we have consistently seen is that there is very little correlation between performance on paper and performance on track.
Where there is a good correlation with results is in the professionalism of teams, their vehicle completion dates, and their emphasis on resource generation and cost-benefit analysis. As a result of this we prioritise training team members, and investing in their professional development. This is not only strongly aligned with our team goals, but exceptionally beneficial for our competition performance.
The general basis for involvement in our team is in management and delivery of a technical project, such as: a cooling system, aerodynamics package or impact structure. These not only introduce student engineers to the challenges of project scheduling, critical path analysis and budgeting in the context of a 50-strong team, but also encourage use of a range of industry leading design tools and processes. Formula SAE is highly regarded by many software vendors, particularity in the CAE industry, and as a result we have access to almost all leading engineering design and management suites.
Our vehicle design is based in Solidworks CAD, with a full vehicle assembly of over 800 individual components. Finite element Analysis (FEA) and Computational Fluid Dynamics analysis software (Altiair Hyperworks, ANSYS, CosmosWorks, OpenFOAM & RicardoWave) are used to prove designs in a virtual environment, enabling design time reduction and cost savings over physical prototyping. All team systems are extended over Curtin’s VPN for access anywhere in the world, with revision management of all wiki content, technical reports and Solidworks CAD data delivering up-to date information to our team within minutes of changes being made.
Atlassian Confluence provides a basis for team technical documentation and peer knowledge sharing in a highly editable wiki environment. In just one year we have created around 300 pages of content including 80 project reports.
We clearly think we’re doing good things for our soon to be graduates, but what does everyone else think?
Ross Brawn OBE Hon FIMechE, Formula Student Patron
Former Team Principal, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 Team
“What I find most appealing about Formula Student is the innovation that it encourages, as the competition rules give the entrants a lot of design freedom. This results in many different solutions to the same issues…
Having worked my way up, I appreciate that to develop a good grounding in engineering, practical experience is essential. Formula Student combines hands-on practical applications with students’ academic studies, but also gives experience in vital skills such as budgeting, project management and team work.
Whether the competitors go in to motorsport or a different sector of engineering…Formula Student will help towards their future success.”
Jon Hilton, Chairman of Formula Student
“It’s brilliant to see so many teams from around the world applying for Formula Student 2014 – it shows that the competition remains one of the most important learning experiences for those aiming to combine their studies with exposure to a real world engineering project.
“We’re also delighted to see teams from four new countries registering to take part. Formula Student is a global competition and we want to continue to encourage brilliant young engineers from across the globe to improve their practical skills and get ready to play their part in the vibrant worldwide engineering community.
“The innovation demonstrated by these young engineers gets more impressive every time and I’m extremely excited to see what they have in store for us this year.”
Jo Lopes, Head of Technical Excellence at Jaguar Land Rover
“Formula Student is the largest global event to bring together Industry and the world’s best universities, some from as far afield as India, Russia and Australia. The concept of the event and the talent of the students involved provide automotive companies such as Jaguar Land Rover with an invaluable opportunity to engage with individuals who have the potential to drive the future of our industry.”