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Thread: FSAE is Not a Kit Car Competition

  1. #31
    I still remember back in 2011 when we dropped a huge box filled with junk on our impact attenuator to validate it.

    Scary.
    Daniel Schwind
    UFF - Universidade Federal Fluminense (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

    2015 - Mechanical Systems Leader - Faraday Racing Formula SAE-E
    2014 - Powertrain Consultant - Buffalo Formula SAE-C
    2013 - Powertrain Leader - Buffalo Formula SAE-C
    2012 - Brake System Co-Designer - Buffalo Formula SAE-C
    2011 - Newbie/Do everything - Buffalo Formula SAE-C

  2. #32
    Oh yes. There's a reason the procedure I wrote for it said that the strap used to pull the quick-release hook lever had to be 20' long and that the person pulling the strap needed a straight unobstructed path out the door.
    Charles Kaneb
    Magna International
    FSAE Lincoln Design Judge - Frame/Body/Link judging area. Not a professional vehicle dynamicist.

  3. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Rouelle View Post
    Lutz,
    I do not have a problem with the impact attenuator. But I do have a problem with people who do buy one and the engineering design and test report ....without understating it.
    Claude, while from an educational stand I think it's great for teams to understand why they are doing things. But from a problem solving, time and resource management approach (which is ultimately what we're trying to educate these students for) it doesn't make much sense.
    If the teams spend all of their time analysing every single rule and the reasoning behind why the exact values and limitation were picked, they'd never get round to actually doing any design work, and they'd never get to the end of it without actually asking the person who came up with rule, exactly what calculation were done to decide why the roll hoop must have 2.6mm wall thickness, etc. So as soon as a team makes, what is for them, the correct decision to use the standard IA to better allocate resources elsewhere, why spend any more time thinking about it, that undermines the whole reason for picking it in the first place? Either you trust the rule makers to know that it is a good, safe design, or you shouldn't be making a car to any of the other rules either!

    If a team gets to design judging and says they only had 5 team members, a $5000 budget, only one lathe and mill and no CNC. But they can justify, mainly through: man-hours available<man-hours estimated to design and build, that off the shelf parts were the only way they had of getting a car built in time to get 3 months of rigorous testing done during which time they pushed the car to it's absolute limits, and can prove it on track.
    THEN another team turns up with:
    50+ members, $100,000+ budget, a workshop full of facilities including CNC machining, and a sponsor with an autoclave for their carbon chassis and full aero package, and can also justify all their designs through lengthy calculations and simulations that their hordes of team members did. And also got there car running in time for 3 months of testing (by paying to have all their parts custom made by someone else, and getting their hordes of team members to make them).
    If both cars look reliable enough, and have evidence of their testing, but no evidence of direct comparison lap times, then I would assume that the second car was probably faster. BUT considering they had 10x more team members, 20x more money, and lets say 10x more facilities, and their car cannot be 2000 (=10x20x10) times faster, then the first team has done a far more efficient job than the second. Okay the 2000x isn't a usable number for comparison due to diminishing returns on performance gains, but the point is made.
    Dunk
    --------------------------------------------------------
    Brunel Racing
    2010-11 - Drivetrain Development Engineer
    2011-12 - Consultant and Long Distance Dogsbody
    2012-13 - Chassis, Bodywork & Aerodynamics manager

    2014-present - Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover

  4. #34
    Dunk,
    Story 1. Many years ago I had a young and talented Formula 3 driver who asked me to change the differential ramp angle to solve a power understeer corner exit problem. It was his first race. He did ask me that in a middle of a qualify cession! He probably heard in a conversation with other drivers or engineers or mechanics that such a setup change could solve his specific problem but because he never worked on the car himself he probably thought that changing the differential ramp angle was as fast as adjusting the front camber of the rear ride height.
    Story 2. A few years ago the team who win the FSG design competition was able to explain how any of the car part was manufactured. The new exactly any of the car part manufacturing process (CNC, metal cutting, welding, composite work) everything (
    Story 3 (And that one relates to your actual work so you will tell me if I am write or wrong). I have observed that car manufacturers are more and more order givers and less and less designers and manufacturers of their own components. In the last 30 years I have observed the knowledge of car components manufacturers or even complete subassembly suppliers or consulting companies growing quicker that the ones of the car manufacturer engineers. And with more efficiency and less bureaucracy.
    Story 4. At OptimumG we do simulation software. I do not ask our vehicle dynamics engineers to be prefect OOP programmers but I do ask them to have enough skills and experience to have intelligent conversation with the core programmers.
    Story 5. One of the reasons that makes OptimumG seminars successful in the professional racing or passengers cars world is our ability to connect the dots (tires, aero, kinematics and compliances, damping…. you name it) even if we are 5 to 10 times less qualified than any of the F1 specialists in their very specific domain. The hyper-specialization and the oversight of the fundamentals is what often creates confusion, bureaucracy , lack of efficiency. But that is also why we have a business. On the other end, in fairness and objectivity, even if we are more efficient and agile, small consulting companies like ours do not have the financial power to compete in similar project even. Well, that is also why we are too small to fail

    Put the 5 stories together and you will understand that even it makes perfect logistical and budgetary sense for a car manufacturer to by parts outside, if I was one of these car manufacturers and I had to hire an engineer I will want to have one who knows how to design and manufacture the parts he is in charge of, even if the parts design and manufacturing is made outside the company.
    And that is what my point was: FSAE not a kit car competition. I know that you can’t compare a 250K$ 80 students 10 years of experience big university access to lab and excellent faculty advisor to a 25 K$ 10 students small university no real good teachers first year team but I still will give students more praise (and most probably points too ) to students who design and manufacture parts than students who buy them. That is what FSAE / FS is supposed to be: prepare them for their career. If not, well they can play Lego.

    Back to story 1. Back to the talented but unknowledgeable driver. After that race I arranged to have that driver to spend 3 weeks, 6 days/week, 14 hours/day working with the mechanics and completely assemble and disassemble and setup a car. Just as an example, when he saw how complicated it was to get the fuel pump back inside the fuel tank via a very small window on the rear bulkhead of the monocoque, he started to appreciate and respect the mechanics’ work. We even sent him in a van to pick up parts and engines in Italy for a 30 hours non-stop round trip. We put him as a passenger in the semi-trailer that went with his car to a test cession. We made him wash gear ratios and rims. With good workshop jokes, laughing lunches and 1 or 2 beers after the long working days, these 3 weeks did really bind the team together. Engineers, mechanics and the driver acquired respect and even admiration for each other. The driver didn’t anymore ask to make in 2 minutes a setup change that takes really 45 minutes. We won the championship that year and the driver made it to Formula One 3 years later. He is still my friend. We won for many reasons but one of them was the common knowledge and appreciation of each other work
    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
    [url]www.optimumg.com[/u

  5. #35
    Claude,
    Sadly you are absolutely right about the industry I work in, it's one of my biggest annoyances. My role would best be described as a type of "technical expert", as such I support a number of engineers that work on different parts of the car, and it pains me greatly when a new engineer knows less about how their part functions than I do, even though I am only supposed to be an expert in one specific area.

    But having said all that, what seem to be saying is that given one team with lots of resource and members, and one team with few resources or members, both of whom have made the absolute best engineering decisions based on what they had available to them, in an engineering design judging event you would reward the team with more resources more, because they had the opportunity to do more in depth engineering that the other team didn't. And we're not talking about on track here. With ALL ELSE BEING EQUAL the team with more resources and people is obviously going to be faster, and there is no fair way to normalise lap times according to how much was spent developing the car. So that just is what it is.
    But in a closed judging session, where the questions being asked are: Did they make the right engineering decisions? Do they know why these parts are on their car? And in the case of the poorer team: Do they understand the disadvantage they have by having to buy the parts off the shelf? I think it's unfair to mark down the team because they had less opportunity to learn than others. It's perhaps too strong a word to use, but that borders on elitism.

    If the role of the competition is to encourage student engineers to get involved in a more practical way, and motivate them to teach themselves more than just what they are being taught in the lecture theatre. Then how can we justify knowingly doing anything that would discourage and demotivate those that are coming from schools where they are less supported in such endeavours?

    I went to a school where every year was a battle to explain to the academic staff that we simply didn't have the means to build a car that could guarantee a top spot. That finishing in the top 10 of a 100 car event, or as the top UK team was the most that should be expected of us (anything better would have been by default). But that was only thought to be due to the amount of points allocated in dynamic events, but that we still stood a chance of doing just as well as anyone else in the static events. We never did reach design finals, and that's fine, we didn't deserve to. But to find out that we had even less resources we might not ever had a chance to, that is disheartening.

    And as a final point, if the role of FS/FSAE is not to "inspire/motivate" but solely to "prepare them for their career" and the automotive industry is (for better or worst in an engineering purist point of view) heading towards a formula where everything is outsourced. Then surely having teams buy parts off the shelf that weren't intended to go together, and putting them together into a really well integrated system that works better than the sum of is parts, is exactly what they should be being taught. And a team that custom designs and makes every single part to work perfectly together is being taught an idealistic lie that they will never actually see in industry.
    Last edited by Dunk Mckay; 05-01-2016 at 05:08 AM.
    Dunk
    --------------------------------------------------------
    Brunel Racing
    2010-11 - Drivetrain Development Engineer
    2011-12 - Consultant and Long Distance Dogsbody
    2012-13 - Chassis, Bodywork & Aerodynamics manager

    2014-present - Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Dunk Mckay View Post
    Claude,
    And as a final point, if the role of FS/FSAE is not to "inspire/motivate" but solely to "prepare them for their career" and the automotive industry is (for better or worst in an engineering purist point of view) heading towards a formula where everything is outsourced. Then surely having teams buy parts off the shelf that weren't intended to go together, and putting them together into a really well integrated system that works better than the sum of is parts, is exactly what they should be being taught. And a team that custom designs and makes every single part to work perfectly together is being taught an idealistic lie that they will never actually see in industry.
    This is very poignant for me at the moment, being in the midst of applying for grad positions and hopping on a plane tomorrow for an interview with Ford (freaking excited, yes).

    I wonder how much of my time spent designing components from scratch will really apply in industry, even at Ford (touch wood)? I'm far more certain that the skills I have, that they want, are wrapped up under teamwork, leadership, project management, composure under stress, finding cost effective solutions (hint hint) or working professionally with consumers (ie. sponsors)?

    Our team is prety poorly funded by our university, but 'well' funded by our sponsors. Perhaps I shouldn't say it, but to hell with it for the purposes of this argument. University gives us $4k AUD, our sponsors give us about $16k. We do however, have a fantastic workshop with relatively free access to the machines, so I'll give them that much.

    The point is that despite our uni not willing to help us with anything other than our entry fee, our team has managed to achieve and learn so much more than we expected. While we actually haven't purchased many off the shelf parts, we also haven't designed 3D printed titanium uprights or carbon fibre monocoques. But regardless of your uni, regardless of your funding or team size, you're still going to get the same key skills out of FSAE that industry and employers actually want. If you have to buy your IA, then I don't think you should be penalised for not examining the engineering behind it. You should know how to calculate it anyway from your university degree!
    Last edited by Adman; 05-01-2016 at 06:30 AM.
    Adam Flower
    Head Engineer, 2015, 2016
    Ergonomics Team Leader, 2014
    UTAS Motorsport
    Tasmania

  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Adman View Post
    You should know how to calculate it anyway from your university degree!
    The key word there is "should". Most big companies now will have graduate schemes, often 2 years long, to take someone with a degree and turn them into someone with useful skills. This is because universities are failing to supply graduates that are ready to step into a proper role.
    This is where the need for FSAE and other such competitions has come from. I was able to bypass the whole graduate scheme process and go straight into a proper role, and although I had some experience of a year's industrial placement (as do most nowadays) and had completed a Master course, if I had not also competed in Formula Student for a number of years, I do not think I would have been given the opportunity.

    And it certainly wasn't my ability to design parts in CAD, run FEA or CFD simulations, or do in depth engineering calculations that got me the job. These are all reserved for specialist roles. No, the demonstrable skills that I had that were valuable, were Excel, Powerpoint, team work and time management. Excel spreadsheets, powerpoint presentation and meetings encompass 90% of what engineers do in big industry these days. And while there are the occasional exciting days (my high point so far has been driving one of our cars at 150mph round a test track), most of it is not what one would call riveting work. I'm sure there are some jobs that are, but we can't all do those jobs.

    The challenge universities have is motivating student to actually want to learn those things. An excel spreadsheet assignment on it's own that doesn't actually serve any purpose other than to give you a grade feels pointless. If you give a single overall grade for a group assignments you are penalising the students that do all the work (and they will complain), and handing a degree to those that haven't got a clue. If you mark them individually they will do their own bit and the minimum amount of teamwork they can get away with.
    The only way of getting students to really do those types of work, and properly, is to give them something motivating to work towards, and FSAE does that much better than any self-contained university assignment. But if the outcome of the competition becomes more and more based on factors outside of their control (such as workshop facilities, funding, useful academic staff, team numbers and experience), then that motivation will wane and along with it the skills FSAE graduates self-teach.

    When the FS team I managed (1 of 5 team managers) finished FSG, we were well outside the top 10. But we had achieved our primary goal of completing every single event for the first time in 3 years, this put us in 24th place, closer to 1st place than to the 48th place the team had achieved the year before. We were proud of what we had achieved, and of what we had taught ourselves, we had simply learned our lessons on team work and project management too late in the year to be the top UK team, but early enough to do better than normal.
    A lot of our technical knowledge we were able to pass on to the next team, who built on our design and built a quicker car still, but team skills and team management are not as easy to hand over and they failed to register for FSG. A year later and all of our technical work was thrown out the window, any team skills completely lost completely, the car didn't even make an appearance at FSUK and was not permitted to run at FSG. The success and failure of my old team, and probably of most, hinges on the team and project skills of those involved, but the focus is always on the technical side of things. Even though with a carry over concept the majority of the reasoning behind a technical decision can be passed down from one team line-up to the next. In design judging you could have someone in front of you that knows all the answers to the most detailed and probing of questions, because the guy/girl who came before them told them everything they needed to know, showed them the best design to use, etc. But if they've been able to pull together with their whole team and get a car designed, built and tested, then I think they deserve far more of a reward, even if their car hasn't been designed down to the nuts and bolts.
    Last edited by Dunk Mckay; 05-01-2016 at 03:08 PM.
    Dunk
    --------------------------------------------------------
    Brunel Racing
    2010-11 - Drivetrain Development Engineer
    2011-12 - Consultant and Long Distance Dogsbody
    2012-13 - Chassis, Bodywork & Aerodynamics manager

    2014-present - Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover

  8. #38
    As of 2016, I know that FCA designs the following systems to be made as "build to print" by a supplier or in house:

    1) IC Engines
    2) Body-in-White (almost all parts are stamped in-house)
    3) Suspension systems (almost all parts supplier-made, but supplier "builds to print" or works with FCA to manufacture FCA design)

    In addition, the vehicle dynamics calculations and setup are all done in-house.

    I have heard from colleagues and counterparts that the trend right now is to move from "full-service supplier" to "build-to-print". This makes sense competitively; a supplier who has the contract to design the part as well as make it only has to do it well enough to not get canned and force a panic redesign/re-sourcing.
    Charles Kaneb
    Magna International
    FSAE Lincoln Design Judge - Frame/Body/Link judging area. Not a professional vehicle dynamicist.

  9. #39
    That does seem to be a trend with the European manufacturers as well. Lots of talent stealing from suppliers.

    Having said that, entire vehicle programme engineering is sometimes entirely outsourced, with only the design (aesthetic only) and high level stuff done in house. That doesn't really change the role of the engineer though, it just shifts it to a different employer.
    Dunk
    --------------------------------------------------------
    Brunel Racing
    2010-11 - Drivetrain Development Engineer
    2011-12 - Consultant and Long Distance Dogsbody
    2012-13 - Chassis, Bodywork & Aerodynamics manager

    2014-present - Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover

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