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Thread: 2016 Formula Student Germany

  1. #51
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    Yes, Julian has certainly hit the nail on its head.

    ... some observations from the last years, that could explain some "performance deltas" between a generic "top team" and a "mid tier team"...
    ...
    Fast teams care about one thing. WINNING!!!
    (My added emphasis.)

    The other factors mentioned by Julian also make a difference, but they are a long way behind the one above. I might put "knowledge transfer" in second place. Having "much money" is much, much further back, possibly even a hindrance.

    (So, Adam, stop whinging, and sit on a milk-crate! )
    ~o0o~

    In the past I have suggested to students who want to improve their Team's performance that they put this sign on their workshop wall.

    "Three Rules for Winning this Competition.
    =================================
    Rule 1. Winning Teams are happy Teams.
    Rule 2. Any Team-Member whose decisions or actions cause the Team to NOT win, will have their rotting carcass nailed to this wall ... as positive encouragement to future Team-Members.
    Rule 3. BE HAPPY!!! (See Rule 1.)"


    Below the sign I would put a lump-hammer, and a big box of nine-inch nails.

    (So, Adam, methinks the UTAS Team-Member (or Members?) responsible for the switch to your current "unwinnable" concept should be on that wall now. As "...positive encouragement...", of course! )

    Z
    Last edited by Z; 08-19-2016 at 10:07 PM.

  2. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by Thijs View Post
    To address Nathan's point from earlier:
    In Delft we have a pretty big team of about 70 team members, the vast majority BSc students. Of those, about 50-55 are completely new to the team each year. Roughly 60 design and build the car part time, in the evenings and the weekends.
    Managing such a big group takes a lot of overhead, so there's about a 10 people group (some of them with previous experience on the team, others without) that 'get a year off' (they still have to pay tuition, but it's not that expensive in the Netherlands). They don't get any credit for it either though, it's just that you don't get kicked out of school for not taking any exams for 12 months.
    I would argue that yes, they definitely are students, in the sense that they certainly aren't professionals either, and none of them have finished their degrees.
    I would argue that the strength of the Delft team does not lie in this team structure. In fact I think that with 20 full time guys it would be much easier to build a competitive car.
    Delft's strength (and no doubt the strength of other successful teams), is that alumni stick around and stay involved. We (the alumni) don't want to make design choices. Rather, we aim to hand the (often quite inexperienced) teams the tools to find the answers for themselves.
    We encourage them to, at least in the conceptual phase, start from scratch. Later on, we'll give feedback on the designs they've come up with, so the team won't make mistakes we've seen before. Many of the involved alumni still are students themselves btw.
    For what it's worth, we've never had a faculty adviser in the classical sense. So for things like setting out a multi-year course, the team has always had to depend on alumni that had more of an overview of where the team and the competition was than did one-year team members.

    Is this in the spirit of Formula Student? I would say absolutely. Invariably, students that have been part of the team indicate that their year of Formula Student has been the most educational experience of their college education.
    This is especially true for members in full time positions, who for the first time in their lives have had to take on a rather comprehensive managing role.
    Is this a level playing field? Probably not. But that is the case anyway, for many different reasons.
    Thijs, managing 20 or so people is hard enough, I could not imagine 50,60,70+ Fair enough, I guess it is in the spirit of FS and different teams do things differently whether that is a year off or 4/5 years of FS.
    We normally have members join in 1st or 2nd year, from here they will complete a 3 year Motorsport degree with involvement in the team but only about 4 units out of 24 counting towards the team, most members then go on to finish another 1.5 years (or more) to also get a Bachelor's degree in Mech Eng which means we normally have team members actively in the team for up to 5 years even 6 in some cases.
    So although such team have a year off its probably not such an advantage over some other teams. This style of keeping members for such long periods of time has allowed us to do projects like the custom engine and that.
    Nathan Van Vugt

    Edith Cowan University

    Team Leader 2015 - 2016

  3. #53
    Julian, we've talked before about budgets. And it's an interesting thing. My old team's budget is significantly smaller than yous, but almost all of it comes from the university directly. With, for the most part, only small discounts from supplier/sponsors.

    What Brunel gets it's a budget for the car which usually goes a bit over, but no one complains much. There is a small workshop budget each month, that covers a few projects, but mainly the FS teams tooling needs. All other costs, such as travel, testing, accommodation and entry fees, are assumed as covered. No one in the team every really counts it, it just gets paid. It's an ideal situation really.
    The only difference a bigger budget would make, would that the team would be forced to use more advanced manufacturing techniques, that perhaps they don't have the skills for. I think they'd just send off for more machined parts, rather than making them in house. And perhaps that's the right thing to do, time is arguably more important than a fancy design, at Brunel at least.

    So I don't think budget is the be all and end all. A big budget will only help you if you truly know how to make good use of it. Most teams...don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thijs View Post
    Delft's strength (and no doubt the strength of other successful teams), is that alumni stick around and stay involved. We (the alumni) don't want to make design choices. Rather, we aim to hand the (often quite inexperienced) teams the tools to find the answers for themselves.
    We encourage them to, at least in the conceptual phase, start from scratch. Later on, we'll give feedback on the designs they've come up with, so the team won't make mistakes we've seen before. Many of the involved alumni still are students themselves btw.
    For what it's worth, we've never had a faculty adviser in the classical sense. So for things like setting out a multi-year course, the team has always had to depend on alumni that had more of an overview of where the team and the competition was than did one-year team members.

    Is this in the spirit of Formula Student? I would say absolutely. Invariably, students that have been part of the team indicate that their year of Formula Student has been the most educational experience of their college education.
    This is especially true for members in full time positions, who for the first time in their lives have had to take on a rather comprehensive managing role.
    Is this a level playing field? Probably not. But that is the case anyway, for many different reasons.
    I'm glad to hear you say this. A few on Brunel's alumni, myself including, are tired of the teams mediocre or inconsistent performance, and lack of long term plans (we started one 4 years ago only for it to be thrown out after only 2 relatively good years of progress).
    So we have decided we're going to do a lot more this year to help the new team, but had been a little conflicted on whether or not this would be, as you put it, "in the spirit of Formula Student". So that is encouraging.
    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. #54
    Very interesting thread, and thanks everyone for both the kind words and constructive feedback.
    The Monash guys are understandably a little disappointed with the recent campaign.
    As I was not with the team for both the Austrian and German comps, and given they are still filtering back into the country now, I will wait to catch up with them and debrief properly before adding my 2c.
    I am sure some of our seniors will chime in as well.
    More soon, cheers

  5. #55
    Dunk,

    I know there is always been a lot of discssion about "inhouse" parts. There are basically two schools of thought.
    One hand says "everything should be manufactured inhouse so that people "learn" it" and other say "do as it is best for you".

    I'm a strong supporter of the later.

    I think it is awesome that people can design parts and for us it was great to have external partners to support us in the manufacturing process. The necessary skills of "knowing how parts are made" and "design parts that actually can get manufactured" is given also in that process.
    The discussions with the manufacturing partners about that were great and really helpful.

    Yes you can design a car without using a 5-axis CNC machine, but where is the fun in that?

    I think the fewest of the few Engineering graduates will ever need to use a lathe or a mill by hand in their later professional life. Why forcing them to spend a lot of time on this?

    The most of Zurich's parts are manufactured by the apprenticeship department of a large Airline maintenance company. Those young kids are always so happy to make those "difficult but real-life" parts and often use an upright or a complicated cooling plate as their final exam piece. That was always awesome.
    And I'm quite sure that all teams should be able to find eager partners like that...
    -------------------------------------------
    Alumnus
    AMZ Racing
    ETH Zürich

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

    2014: FSA Engineering Design Judge

  6. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by Dunk Mckay View Post
    Sorry to change the subject. But I've been speaking with the guys in my old team about design judging at FSG.

    Although, sadly Design Judging wasn't part of their focus this year (long story, but the reason we're talking about it is because I'm convincing them that it should be next year). They don't seem to think that FSG use this document, or follow the same structure for scoring in Design.
    http://www.fsaeonline.com/content/FS...et%20150pt.pdf

    I argued that surely they must be. But thought I'd ask on here, and get it from the horse's mouth.

    I think their main argument is that the judges they had weren't broken up the same way as the sheet, but rather covered different technical areas of the car.

    They believe they had 2 vehicle dynamics judges, 1 electronics, 1 aero, 1 driver controls & calibration, 2 powertrain, and 2 on chassis.

    This isn't a criticism, or a complaint, I wasn't there. But want to reassure them that they have the right information to focus on design for next year. So it would be good to get first hand clarification. Pat, are you around?
    Hello,
    No, that was not the document that they used. In the FSG web, every team can access their own "Engineering Design Review", and in there they can see the document that judges use, with comments handwritten by the judges.

    I don't really like this document, and in my opinion, the standard one in the quoted post is MUCH better.

    These are the first two pages, there are four more:
    edr1.jpg
    edr2.jpg

    In my opinion the document quoted in the above post is much clearer than this one. In many of the boxes, I sincerely don't know what the judges are looking for. For example, the first page is about "Overall vehicle concept", and there are two boxes for "Tool and process knowledge". I would think this is about the tools you have used to define your vehicle concept (although in my opinion that's not particularly important, as long as you have reached clear coherent objectives, I don't care if you used some software or simply a whiteboard). However, in my old team's case, the judge wrote there something about the chassis.

    I would be interested to know other people's opinions on this matter, as well as any corrections of course.

    Thanks

  7. #57
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    Whilst Adams numbers may be out, I think there is definitely a point at which you have sufficient monetary support to no longer worry about sourcing and funding aspects of the project and them focus on the engineering time management. When you sit at 5k (au) support, you work hard to make that number go as far as possible, not only that, in-kind (product) can somtimes be easy to get but that's usually a one off product. One of the better in-kind supports I can think off would be material or hardware (we used to get free aluminium, except 7000 series) and early in UWA's history, we got free old (out of date) carbon from boeing(?).

    Whilst 600k is extreme, once you step up from 5k to say 50k, it's a completely different game, seeing the change at UWA (in reverse) has given me a new perspective and much respect for teams that operate successfully on such a tight budget.

    tldr: Once you have enough money to no longer worry about how you will get a new set of belts because yours just lapsed, you can focus on the next issue.
    ex-UWA Motorsport

    General team member 2013-15, Vehicle Dynamics Team Lead 2012
    Project Manager 2011, Powertrain minion 2009/10

  8. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by NickFavazzo View Post
    Whilst Adams numbers may be out, I think there is definitely a point at which you have sufficient monetary support to no longer worry about sourcing and funding aspects of the project and them focus on the engineering time management. When you sit at 5k (au) support, you work hard to make that number go as far as possible, not only that, in-kind (product) can somtimes be easy to get but that's usually a one off product. One of the better in-kind supports I can think off would be material or hardware (we used to get free aluminium, except 7000 series) and early in UWA's history, we got free old (out of date) carbon from boeing(?).

    Whilst 600k is extreme, once you step up from 5k to say 50k, it's a completely different game, seeing the change at UWA (in reverse) has given me a new perspective and much respect for teams that operate successfully on such a tight budget.

    tldr: Once you have enough money to no longer worry about how you will get a new set of belts because yours just lapsed, you can focus on the next issue.
    This was more my point. Having the cushion to replace any broken parts or mistakes, or avoid the sometimes extremely tedious process of obtaining a sponsored component that may only be $200 - $1000 and just buy it instead.
    Adam Flower
    Head Engineer, 2015, 2016
    Ergonomics Team Leader, 2014
    UTAS Motorsport
    Tasmania

  9. #59
    Just want to share a larger perspective here: The main goal of Formula Student is to offer the possibility for students to learn by doing.
    Making a focus on winning, or be the most competitive as you can is good because the progresses we make in the world is often the result of competition.
    FS do help students prepare to get readier for this competitive world.
    But at the end winning is not essential.
    I often meet several years after the competitions, on race track, seminar, congress, at car or car components (tire for example) manufacturing or testing facilities, race teams, or even when visiting professional places that has nothing to do with cars (Blue Origin or SpaceX for example) ex FS guys who do an absolutely fantastic career (and have fun at their work).
    Many of them come from FS teams that where B or C or even lower level teams.
    Little experience, budget, workshop machining capabilities, etc... doesn't mean low experience and education. In fact working in difficult conditions could develop even better skills.

    Two important things I learnt in mt career, especially working with good managers or even working side by side with race car mental trainer:

    1. You cannot have any influence of what the others are doing: the budget, their wind tunnel performance, their chief engineers skills, the power of their engines etc...
    No more that there are a few things that you did not decide in your life: you did not choose your parents, your name, your citizenship.
    But you can and should focus on things you can change: you can't change this year budget but you can increase next year's one, you can better use a software, you can positively influence a manufacturing process.
    So focus on things that are in your control and if possible increase the numbers of things that can be in your control.
    Speaking about other teams budget, number of students, sponsors, etc.. can make you lose focus on the potential you have to develop your own skills and means. And you could end up sounding like whiners.

    2. Strategy by objective (kind of "who have to win", "you must do acceleration under 4.0", etc) do not work.
    Why? If you win you did nothing special; you just reached the objective that you assigned to yourself. But if you missed the objective then you failed. As there will only be one winner, are the other teams failures?
    I have seen racing drivers blaming themselves for losing a race because of a tire puncture they were not responsible for.
    I have seen drivers who, in the same circumstances, said that "they did the best they could" and they will not incriminate themselves for something that was not under their control

    Too long to elaborate on this topic so I will simply say this: strategy by challenges works better than strategy by objectives

    Two books I advise on this topic
    - Performance Thinking (Jacques Dallaire) https://www.amazon.com/Performance-T...008VY2ZDC#nav-
    - The Core (Aki Hintsa) http://www.hintsa.com/the-core/
    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

  10. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Hayward View Post
    So I guess Formula Student (at least UK and Germany) is now a place where technical inspection happens at any time and the penalty for non-compliance is a DQ. As long as this is communicated clearly to the teams and it affects everybody then there aren't too many complaints.

    Kev
    This has always been the case. In the past teams weren't pushing it that hard to the limits. But there were always since I'm involved reinspections and there have always been DQ's. I don't get your point. Are you suggesting the organisers should scrutineer the cars and then there should be no more checks? I guess after one year not a single team would enter endurance with a working BOTS and if your wings would be rules compliant you would be the idiot of the day. I don't blame any team which was recently DQ'ed this year of cheating on purpose, but if you officially don't check anything there will be cheating...
    Rennteam Uni Stuttgart
    2008: Seat and Bodywork
    2009: Team captain

    GreenTeam Uni Stuttgart
    2010: Seat and Bodywork / Lamination whore

    Formula Student Austria
    2012: Operative Team

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