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Thread: FSAE and EPA Regulation

  1. #21
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2002
    Perth, Western Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Rouelle View Post
    Doctor Hayward,

    Stop whining (for once) and start winning. The money is there, even more in Australia: you just do not know how to find it. Think outside the box.


    I am not sure what was whining in my post. My issue is largely about what should be spent on these cars rather than what can be spent. Building a new car every year is an inherently wasteful exercise, and I have concerns about how much should be spent on these cars each year. My desire is to see as many students run through this program as practically possible. An increase in cost (and undue difficulties) make this less likely to happen.

    If we take your view that every team should be gathering sponsorship at the level achieved by some teams (lets say $200k) that works out at $120 million per year for 600 teams. Add to that the costs absorbed by Universities and we would be likely above $200 million per year or more to run this competition. My objection to that amount of money spent on this competition is both moral and economical.

    Morally as it represents a large sum of money that can be used elsewhere for more benefit to humanity. Economically, because it does not need to cost that much to achieve the desired educational outcomes.

    On a related note a good friend of mine has just completed his PhD at John Hopkins University dealing with Global health issues. During the process he had some involvement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. An interesting point he makes regards how much money is spent on individuals in Western Health systems vs what is spent in third world countries. The cost of improving quality and length of life for a few could save the lives of many. There is nothing inherently wrong with the former, but the disparity is obscene.

    I think the same is true of budgets in FSAE. Ultimately this competition is for the educational benefit of the next generation of engineers. Competition helps this as they enter a highly competitive industry. However as a program it should make economic sense. If the same outcome can be met by lower costs (both dollars and time) then it is silly not to do so.


    For the record I will say that I have been involved with two teams that would have been considered well funded by most teams. Both have been successful, which you are well aware of, hence my confusion about your exhortation to win rather than whine. We are currently in a position that if we wished to push for the extreme budgets required to be a top level EV team we almost certainly could. Although the extra funds would not improve the educational benefit proportionally and doing so would sideline funds from some programs that offer greater benefits to society.

    I will admit that arguments about trying to reduce wealth disparity and caring for the wider population are somewhat socialist in nature. For that feel free to label me as a Formula Student socialist. Our difference of opinion on this matter may be as much political as anything else. Maybe I am the Bernie Sanders to your Trump. While you perceive my attempts to encourage inclusion and accessibility as being whining you should note that I see your constant calls for teams to stop being lazy and raise more money as a more destructive form of whining.


  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by jd74914 View Post

    On a separate note, I totally agree with Dr. Hayward's post. I would love to participate in FSE; the level of controls tuning really brings performance to the next level. Additionally, I think it allows better integration of electrical and software disciplines which seems to be lacking in combustion competitions. My working experience has been that these disciplines could use practical, hand-on experience even more than the ME-types.

    If you think that combustion cars don't have enough electrical and software opportunities, feel welcome to write your own. We write our own engine control strategies for the snowmobile and formula SAE teams. Last year we also made the step to design our own lightweight fusebox/distribution panel/ETC logic panel with SMD components. Not saying that that's a lot, but from there you can go some serious directions. Custom software for traction control, stability control, ABS, engine torque controls, advanced turbo/boost controls, etc.

    The engine models and required interactions are a little more abstract than hooking up wires and letting current flow. Fuel injectors, coil dwell, turbos, fuel selection, etc. all have their own non-linear components which can make life difficult. It's not exactly trivial. Even if you run an electric car you can get away with many commercial components: motors, batteries, BMS, controllers. So even on that side of it, you can get away with just hooking some wires up and building a harness, just like the combustion cars.
    Kettering University Vehicle Dynamics
    Formula SAE 2010 - 2015
    Clean Snowmobile Powertrain 2012 - 2015

    Boogityland 2015 - Present

  3. #23
    Guys, please stay civilized..

    Claude, I agree that getting sponsorship is part of the game and if you want to win you have to have a certain amount of money/parts/favors by external helpers to make it work.
    But, there is no need for calling Kev a "whiner". I think his posts are well-leveled and realistic. It probably will not work to have every team catching 200k a year.

    jd74914, university support cannot(!) be the answer. I think this is the major flaw in most low-funded teams. They get their fair share of the universities budget and "it always worked with this money" and they don't get out of their comfort zone.
    The most successful teams out there get very limited funding from their universities!
    (Fun fact: Being a Swiss team, we always heard some really fun numbers how much money our university would give us. I heard up to 100k Euros. We never got a single penny. They gave us a small room with old computers and a working space. We are very grateful for that, yes. But never ever did we receive a money transfer from ETH... And still we were one of the better funded teams out there).

    I think the name of the game is certainly "sponsors from outside automotive".
    Within our biggest sponsors we have the energy supplier of Zurich, an aerospace company, the company that does maintenance of the Swiss Air planes, a bicycle parts manufacturer, a bank (of course!), some super small specialized machinging companies, car dealers, a train manufacturer, military tech...
    Look outside the box, yep, that works.

    But still, I think it would be fun to take the batteries out of the game.
    They are really expensive, the most dangerous part of it and you don't really get a competitve advantage. The top teams kind of converged to the same cells because they offer enough charge and re-charge rates and have decent energy densities.
    So there is not too much in there.

    A company like Tesla supplying those and ease the monetary need by a couple of thousand dollars. That would be great yes... But highly unlikely still.

    I think "money limits" are really hard to incorporate in FSAE because you basically never pay full retail price for goods and services. E.g. our self-developed motors are always basically for free due to sponsorship. In order to get comparable ones on the open market, you pay 10k+ (which is still probably an amount where AMK does not earn a lot of money with..).
    This is not reflected in a Cost report.. this is not observable from the outside. How would one ever be able to influence/control that?

    I'm trying to join the Bernie Sanders side of the game. I think the best design should win, not the best funding. But so far I don't know how one should be able to do that... We should start a committee to come up with solutions there
    AMZ Racing
    ETH Zürich

    2010-2011: Suspension
    2012: Aerodynamics
    2013: Technical Lead

    2014: FSA Engineering Design Judge

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by nat45928 View Post
    Speaking as a US team, we would get whipped by anyone from the top 10 in Europe. We just have not had the time to create solid cars and have not been able to improve on performance yet.
    This may sound blunt, but that sounds like a cop out, while revealing some underlying problems at the same time.

    Lincoln FSAE-E 2015 Results (third US event)

    2015 was the third time that the FSAE Electric took place in the US. Just judging from the acceleration event results over the years, not a whole lot has happened in those three years.
    Only 20% of teams present (others didn't show up at comp at all) managed to finish an acceleration run. Of those three cars, two needed 5 seconds or more to do it.
    Meanwhile, off the top of my head I can think of at least four European teams that were running around the 3.8 second mark with their very first electric cars. All of them with either 1 or 2 off the shelf motors.

    Here are the results for the very first German acceleration event:
    FSE Acceleration results 2010 (first event)
    And the third one:
    FSE Acceleration results 2012 (third event)
    The finishing rates of both lists interests me more than simply how much quicker the cars got in 2 years.

    It seems to me that this is not a problem for US teams that calls for custom motors, 4WD, 600V and tens of thousands of extra $'s from schools. Those come in handy if you want to move from top 10 to top 3 in the European competitions.
    Looking at how flat the learning curve seems to be, I'm afraid more time and a focus on improved performance (what performance?) will not nearly be enough, but simply 'more cash' will certainly not solve anything.
    US teams need to (re)focus on building simple, reliable cars that can extract the maximum performance from the HV equipment that they do have, and build from there.
    Also: If US teams are serious about doing well at FSAE-E, they might consider doing what for example Zürich, Trondheim, Delft and a whole range of German teams did, and ditch the ICE car completely so all money and effort can be focused towards that goal.

    People like Mr smokebreak may fear that such a move would make students less attractive to ICE car building companies. I seriously doubt that, for the following reasons:
    1. Anyone on an FSAE team not concerned with the drivetrain will be attaining the exact same skill set (whether on general engineering principles, vehicle dynamics, aero, composites, ergonomics, even much of the electronics)
    2. Forget about those specific skill sets. FSAE students aren't attractive to companies because they've designed an exhaust once. They're valuable because they've worked in an engineering team, with a budget and a planning and a physical product as an end result

    As an aside, I'll echo what Julian said about budgets from European Uni's. Delft actually does get some money from their University, but at least an order of magnitude less than what people seem to think, and if anything it's less than we used to get back when we were still building ICE cars.
    Last edited by Thijs; 02-15-2016 at 08:08 AM. Reason: added emphasis, and slight rephrasing
    Formula Student Team Delft

    2007 - 2008: Powertrain, Suspension
    2009: Technical Lead
    2010 - present: Grumpy Old Fart/Concerned Citizen

  5. #25
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    North Carolina
    After being around FSAE for 6-7ish years, all I hear when someone says that the price of something is too much is just complaining. It's the same game and rules for everybody. So you work smarter or harder than the others to try and get more for your team. We found someone to take our car to the PRI Tradeshow for 5 years in a row. The first 3 years it was in Orlando, FL so that was 1300 miles one way, then we would pay for the airfare ourselves to get there. And the first two years was all in the middle of the recession. By the final year I went we had gone from 5 sponsors at the show to 30+. We didn't complain though, this is what motorsports is. In fact we have a far easier time selling ourselves then any other form of motorsports.

    There's a giant circle jerk in the FSAE community that the only reason that the top teams are top teams is because of money. It existed in 2009 when I entered, even within my own team. I believed it at first too, but then I saw teams like USF put together the right people in the right places, make good financial decisions, and work smarter in areas to make up what they lacked. I've also seen teams with budgets well beyond what we were able to achieve and squander it all and make poor decisions. The top teams are top teams because they put the right people in the right place and then those people put the right people in the right place to replace them, so on and so forth. This is how the real world works as well.

    So while I feel that Claude was a little over the top on the way he presented his opinion, I can see where it comes from. So many teams use the excuse of time and money as the reason they can't compete with X team, when in reality those things are just effects of having the right people. Even though Jayhawk Motorsports didn't experience that much success, especially when competing against the powerhouses of FSAE, I had dozens of people come up to me at competitions or tradeshows over the years and tell me that they could do what we did if they had the same resources. The first couple of times you just try to smile and be polite, but pretty soon you dig back into them because you know how much work it takes. Especially after being in professional motorsports now, it makes any FSAE issue with money or sponsors look like a cake walk compared to what teams big and small have to go through to try and get sponsorships.

    When I was a freshman a smart guy on my team told me, "The money is out there, you just have to take it. No excuses."
    Trent Strunk
    University of Kansas
    Jayhawk Motorsports

    Now in NASCAR land. Boogity.
    Opinions Are My Own

  6. #26
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Bolton, CT
    Quote Originally Posted by JulianH View Post
    jd74914, university support cannot(!) be the answer. I think this is the major flaw in most low-funded teams. They get their fair share of the universities budget and "it always worked with this money" and they don't get out of their comfort zone.
    The most successful teams out there get very limited funding from their universities!
    Apologies if it sounds that way, but I'm not advocating for university funding support. Despite our best efforts, we always had problems on the university administrative end. By university rules, our non in-kind funding needs to go through the official university funding organization. This organization was never willing to help us (ie: taking weeks to act on even the most routine paperwork) and we have lost a number of sponsors just trying to get them to act on contracts, etc. Their goal was achieving five figure dollar grants for colleges and not anything smaller.

    As best as I could tell, most of our problems were associated with not helping statistics. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like most highly successful teams seem to have more publicity support from their universities.

    In terms of money, like Trent said, a little can go a long way if you're clever-especially with a combustion car. I'm just with Dr. Hayward that parts for the electric cars seem to be more expensive without in-kind sponsorship.
    Last edited by jd74914; 02-14-2016 at 12:44 PM.
    "Old guy #1" at UCONN Racing

  7. #27
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Perth, Western Australia
    My apologies for my role in taking this thread off topic. We certainly don't need another thread dealing with cost control, how much should be attempted, and how it could even be achieved. Probably one of the most heated ongoing discussions on these forums.

    As a side note Jim (and others) please feel free not to refer to me as Dr. Hayward. I think it is important to let your words speak for themselves to add strength not rely on titles or association to add strength to your comments. I would rather listen to a wise undergraduate than a foolish doctor. This is the main reason why I have no time for lengthy introductions or signatures.

    Out of curiosity how likely is it that these EPA regulations will become law? Are the EPA particularly stubborn on these issues, or is the public voice more effective? Also what sort of response has the SCCA given?


  8. #28
    Calling Kevin a whiner was a reaction specifically to Kevin, from whom I keep hearing such complains for about 15 years, but also to many other students, very often from Australia

    Let me tell you a bit of my story. Some of you may have heard it, some may have not ….In 1978 (yeah I know, I am becoming an old fart) I designed and manufactured both a wind tunnel and a race car (a Formula Ford because I wanted to design a car that I could build, so F1 was not an option) as the thesis of my master industrial engineering degree and I did not pay for anything. I couldn’t. I had no money. I had no moral support (I left my home at 19 years old leaving behind me a dysfunctional and destructive family) , I worked during night and week end at many different jobs to pay for school – which I have to admit was and is still cheaper in Europe than in the US. There were many days I was hungry. I never considered myself as a super smart guy. I had to work hard to make decent grades. I repeated the first year and had summer exams the second and third year. I had no support from the school. During the second year I openly spoke about my dream to build a race car as the thesis on my engineering degree. The dean of the school called me in his office to tell me he thought it was impossible and I should better concentrate on my grades. Three years later, I presented a rolling chassis (I did not find the money for an engine) to the “jury” and got a 19/20, a quote that the school had not awarded to any student for 17 years. (They were picky Jesuits). I did not pay for anything. Anything. I had the tube of the chassis and te suspension being manufactured is a special steel and at special dimensions. Free of Charge. I had the front and rear upright casted in magnesium . Free of charge. I did convinced Dunlop to give me the tires and Bilstein to give me the dampers. A local spring manufacturer made the spring and the ARB free of charge. I got all the road ends and spherical bearings, wheel bearings, paint, polyester (we did not speak about carbon fiber at that time) free of charge. I found sponsors to pay for the pedal box, the steering rack, the seat belts, the extinguisher…. You name it.

    I think I was able to build that car because I was able to share my dreams and to sell my emotions.

    “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
    ― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

    That is because of this experience that I feel I have the right and I have the guts to sometimes tell students that their best is not good enough, and that they can't dream big.

    When I hear people telling me that they can’t find the money, sorry guys, but I hear whiners. I hear people constricting themselves, restricting themselves. Probably another sense of guilt carried by the Judeo-Christian spirit

    “….. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. ….. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
    ― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

    I agree with Kevin that too much money is spent on inefficient health care in the US. If you want an another example going this way Swedish spent 1/2 of what Americans spent and live 10 years older enjoying a better life when they are old with less medical support. But is the goal to decrease medical expenses in the US or increase it in Africa?

    I am tired of people who can’t think and act big, who keep restricting themselves. It IS possible to thing big and ecologic and healthy and democratic. We need more Henry Ford and more Steve Jobs and more Bill Gates in this world.

    “Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Steve Jobs

    May also point out that Formula Student is NOT motorsport and I feel you Kevin would like to consider t that way. Stop whining, start winning

    For the record and so that everybody knows my true colors, I do contribute to Bernie Sanders election.
    Claude Rouelle
    OptimumG president
    Vehicle Dynamics & Race Car Engineering
    Training / Consulting / Simulation Software
    FS & FSAE design judge USA / Canada / UK / Germany / Spain / Italy / China / Brazil / Australia

  9. #29
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    NSW, Australia
    "My life was so difficult.... kids these days have it so much better.... people aren't trying hard enough to satisfy me...................................... Stop whining, start winning." <-- this directed at someone with quite a bit of success under their belt. Righto champ.

    Also, Henry Ford was demonstrably a racist moron, and we do not need more of his kind.

    To add to Will's initial post, Jalopnik ran a pretty decent follow up story. There are a few knowledgeable commenters too

    UoW FSAE '07-'09

  10. #30
    Money is not the problem for the US EV teams. The problem is kids don't know what the f*** they are doing. It has less to do with the powertrain and more to do with building shoddy 500+ lbm cars, apparently all without reading the rulebook.

    It took a lot of effort for us in our first year to build a car that wasn't finished in time and didn't pass tech let alone run a single event at comp. It was not much more difficult to pull our heads out of our asses and build a similar but simple, non-aero second-year car that won the competition. It seems to me that the euro teams who dropped ICE and switched to EV already had good ICE programs, and passed down their knowledge of how to build a good car (nevermind what powertrain). From what I saw at Lincoln this past year, very few of the EV teams had any good vehicle dynamics knowledge, very few had done even the simplest calculations to say "this car that we are building makes sense" and very few had cars that passed the simplest of all engineering tests: the "looks right" test. And this isn't to say that they're power-electronics experts either. Most everybody runs the Unitek controller and all had similar gearing to us but no one else but us was using field weakening to make the most of the bad situation that is the 300V limit... (side note. 300V limit is, I believe, why FSAE-E accel times are relatively slow and will remain that way for a few years longer than in FSE)

    Why did the vast majority of the EV cars at lincoln not pass tech again? I don't know. We made that mistake our first year, but thankfully learned a lesson. I was especially surprised to see some powerhouse schools, both in engineering academia and formula history/legacy, show up after having made the same mistake 2 years in a row (come on guys, build it to pass the technical inspection! one of the few times in your engineering career when everything is spelled out for you!).

    I'm curious and have a question for the AMZ guys. Do you guys get engineering assistance with your rather high-tech components? Custom motors, I assume custom inverters, and MR dampers? I would love to have sat down in my senior year and designed a custom motor that's better for FSAE than the emrax but definitely did not gain the skills during my time in school to do it. I'm not sure that there is a school in the US teaching those skills. If I had to do it I would be seeking help from industry experts to at least get pointed in the right direction.
    Penn Electric Racing

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