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Thread: My first FSAE/Formula Student experience

  1. #1

    My first FSAE/Formula Student experience

    Hello FS Community

    My name is Stefanos Stamoulis, undergraduate Mechanical Engineer at the Western Macedonia University of Applied Sciences located in Kozani city, Northern Greece.
    I am the main CAD designer/Chassis supervisor,designer/CAD Vehicle Master Assembly Supervisor of TEIWM Racing Team. We are the 6th Greek FS team with a completed vehicle.

    This was our first ever participation in an FS event. Specificly we attended the FSAE Italy between 19th-23th of July. You can guess that we went there because it was the easiest/no quiz required event.

    Our car named "Daedalus" is designed with a tubular chassis out of 25CrMo4 ENDUROTUBE [from Netherlands,higher properties than normal AISI 4130] with a 4cyl GSXR K4 model engine.
    Although after the rules raised the cc limitation,i wanted to change into a single cylinder engine,mainly because FSAE is all about going lightweight. Also our team had developed a full aero kit,but
    the sponsor for the carbon fiber parts was late with the front/rear wings.

    Moving on, our team arrived at the event with me and my team leader full of excitement. We had been waiting for 3 years to have an experience like this. Although the rest of the team was kinda
    nervous all the team and bad attitude....one of the guys of the team had the impression that he was the master mechanic because he helped us using conventional mills and lathes for some last minute
    parts, and his attitude towards the people studying on the car with carefull calculations was like swearing all the time to us with no reason.

    1st day of the event : Campsite arrangement and registration. Generally the camping was slow, they should have put more personel to take care of the teams incoming...but all went good,we
    made our tents very quickly beacause our team consists only of 11 members. After we met a lot of German teams and we made quick friendship with the guys from DHBW Stuttgart after we helped them
    making their tents. Moving on..

    About the Tech Inspection/Scruteneering : Tech Inspection also was a bit slow....maybe very slow...there were a lot of cars there, with very few judges to examine the cars,forcing a lot of teams
    waiting for the 2nd or even the 3rd day to pass. Moreover, the static events programm was awful. Our team lost 1 and a half day because we had static events in conjunction with the Tech Inspection.
    The night before were only me and our team leader getting everything ready for the next day,and with the help of Aristotle Electric Racing Team, we had everything done....although the rest of the team abandonded us.
    After that we quickly passed Egress/Tilt and we had a bit trouble in the Noise Test, but with the help of TUL Liberec from Prague and the Aristostle Racing Team we passed shortly after.
    Next we had the Brake Test and thats where our biggest trouble was. We couldnt get the front wheels locked. We tried more than 10 times and nothing. We passed then just 40 mins before the
    Autocross closes. The team decided,against my opinion, to make some testing, but after a few minutes we suffered a coolant line rupture. We fixed it quickly,but we lost Autocross...I want to mention
    also that we lost the Skidpad and Acceleration. I was very pissed off with the organisers, because the schedule was too tight, albeit the large number of cars. They could put extra time for more cars to complete.
    I hope next year, if they have such large amount of cars to organise better the whole event, and give extra time for dynamic events.

    All in all, we achieved to be the first Technological Educational Institute of Greece with a fully-approved FSAE car.....in our first ever event.

    About Endurance : The Grand Finale. The moment me and my 2 teammates who we started the team 3 years ago have been waiting. Emotions were running high for me, because all the work we did
    was actually paying off...i still remember pushing the car and having tears in my face....will never forget that moment.
    The last electric car went off,and after it was our turn [1st in row because we didnt make it to the other dynamic events].
    And then....it began.....we were counting down the laps....we didnt care about time...we cared only for the car to finish....we had a bit of trouble,our ECU had the engine on safe mode and we couldnt
    push harder and harder.....the driver change came in....Disaster....the car turns off....the judges give us 3 minutes to start the car but it didnt start.....and thats it....the end....we completed half of the
    Endurance.....It was the most dissapointing moment of my life....i felt that i had failed....that i was a disaster and took my team together...after heading to the pit,we tried to find if there was any damage
    to the car and what caused the problem that didnt let the engine turn on.

    After a couple of hours,we found out the smoking gun. The engine was running in rich mixture. The cause was the TPS was messed up during inspection and during the Noise Test [ Calibrating idle RPM]
    so the mapping that we had done was almost inexistent....Also,the fuel tank didnt have the special foam that keeps the fuel stable. Inertia during hard cornering made the fluid go right and left....
    I was very frustrated because i felt that some in the team didnt actually made enough work....After we checked if we had any structural damage to any component of the vehicle...Luckily,there was no
    any damage...meaning our car was reliable and robust......at least that made me some comfort..

    In summary : Although the dissapointments, i have to say,those days were the best days i ever had in a veeeeeeeeeery long time. Met a lot of people,discussing about the vehicles,exhanging engineering opinions regarding FSAE,getting positive reviews from many Veteran teams
    and from sponsors who were present. Almost everyone thought that it was maybe our 2nd car or 3rd,but actually it was our first. Some German teams quotted that some mechanical solutions that
    we implemented were not seen in any other rookie team....Generally,i wish our team could attend one or two more FSAE events....it was just unbelievable...what surprised me the most was the
    friendly spirit from all the teams present at the event.....

    All in all, i was so happy that a bad student like me managed to design and built a prototype racecar........from zero
    The negative thing this year was that some of our members,especially after Easter, were having very bad attitude towards the designers....almost got in a fight with one person who thought he
    was the Master Mechanic....


    Formula SAE/Formula Student....What an unforgettable experience....


    pics of our car attached below20414194_10214193290692658_2317242081772130010_o.jpg20414194_10214193290692658_2317242081772130010_o.jpg20232186_10214137443536514_971538948996369977_o.jpg
    TEIWM Racing Formula SAE Team
    Team Lead Designer/Chassis Designer

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Lawrence, KS
    Posts
    150
    First of all, blaming the event organizers because you showed up with a car that wasn't ready to pass inspection is an absolutely horrible attitude, and your team will not make it very far unless you change this attitude. The event workers are volunteering their personal time to put this competition on for you, and all you can do is complain that they're too slow?

    It is YOUR fault that your car didn't pass sound first try.
    It is YOUR fault that the car didn't pass brake test after 10 tries.
    It is YOUR fault that your car ruptured a cooling line.

    If other teams can get through inspection and make all the dynamic events, why can't you? Show up with a car that is ready and it is a lot easier. If you take multiple tries to go through inspection you're going to miss events, or be in a rush, and not perform to your potential in dynamic or static events. That is going to be the case at any FSAE competition that you go to, no matter what. It isn't going to change, you just have to improve your team.


    With that out of the way...glad you had fun I guess?

  3. #3

    Testing?

    Stefanos,

    A few comments

    1. Excellent post. People do not buy what you sell, they buy what you believe in (Ted Talk: The 3 golden circles by Simon Sinek https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMOlfsR7SMQ) When it is about to build a team or finding some sponsors, especially when you are a new team with no experience and no credentials the only thing you can sell is your emotions. You did that pretty well.

    2. Praise globally and criticize locally. No need to explain your anger vs your team member(s) or the organizers. Wash your dirty laundry at home. Nobody is a winner, not any of your team members and certainly not you, not the organizers, not the readers of this post. I just wrote about selling your emotions I should have written: sell you positive emotions, your hopes, not your bitterness. You won't find "buyers" for those.

    3. Could you let us know
    - what was the weight of your car
    - when was it finished
    - how many kilometers of test did you did
    - specifically how many braking test and endurance rehearsal (with driver changes) you performed

    4. Did other first year team pass technical inspection, tilt, brake and noise and finished all dynamics event? If so you may want to speak to this (those) team(s); there could be a lot to learn from them.

    5. Remember that this competition is not only about slip angle, roll centers, weight distribution and compression ratio. It is about building personal team strengths, character, organization, self respect and respect of other team members. In a few weeks when the emotion will have come down ask yourself (and do not share the results) how you did on a scale of 0 to 10.
    Last edited by Claude Rouelle; 08-19-2017 at 03:24 PM.
    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

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by JT A. View Post
    First of all, blaming the event organizers because you showed up with a car that wasn't ready to pass inspection is an absolutely horrible attitude, and your team will not make it very far unless you change this attitude. The event workers are volunteering their personal time to put this competition on for you, and all you can do is complain that they're too slow?

    It is YOUR fault that your car didn't pass sound first try.
    It is YOUR fault that the car didn't pass brake test after 10 tries.
    It is YOUR fault that your car ruptured a cooling line.

    If other teams can get through inspection and make all the dynamic events, why can't you? Show up with a car that is ready and it is a lot easier. If you take multiple tries to go through inspection you're going to miss events, or be in a rush, and not perform to your potential in dynamic or static events. That is going to be the case at any FSAE competition that you go to, no matter what. It isn't going to change, you just have to improve your team.


    With that out of the way...glad you had fun I guess?

    Just the programming of the events should be better thats all. Otherwise,FS Italy was a very competitive event. People used to say that the Italian FS
    Is not high quality event. This year,the event was organized by ANFIA,not ATA...the judges were on point,and they seem to know all the rules. Im glad it was a competitive event and not an event of what people said

    If i had fun....these were the best days of my life....talking with other teams...drinking beer with Germans....having fun with the other Greek teams...amazing,simply amazing
    TEIWM Racing Formula SAE Team
    Team Lead Designer/Chassis Designer

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Rouelle View Post
    Stefanos,

    A few comments

    1. Excellent post. People do not buy what you sell, they buy what you believe in (Ted Talk: The 3 golden circles by Simon Sinek https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMOlfsR7SMQ) When it is about to build a team or finding some sponsors, especially when you are a new team with no experience and no credentials the only thing you can sell is your emotions. You did that pretty well.

    2. Praise globally and criticize locally. No need to explain your anger vs your team member(s) or the organizers. Wash your dirty laundry at home. Nobody is a winner, not any of your team members and certainly not you, not the organizers, not the readers of this post. I just wrote about selling your emotions I should have written: sell you positive emotions, your hopes, not your bitterness. You won't find "buyers" for those.

    3. Could you let us know
    - what was the weight of your car
    - when was it finished
    - how many kilometers of test did you did
    - specifically how many braking test and endurance rehearsal (with driver changes) you performed

    4. Did other first year team pass technical inspection, tilt, brake and noise and finished all dynamics event? If so you may want to speak to this (those) team(s); there could be a lot to learn from them.

    5. Remember that this competition is not only about slip angle, roll centers, weight distribution and compression ratio. It is about building personal team strengths, character, organization, self respect and respect of other team members. In a few weeks when the emotion will have come down ask yourself (and do not share the results) how you did on a scale of 0 to 10.

    -The total weight of the car was 268Kg
    -We did the first shakedown about 14 days before the event. A lot of sponsors delayed us a lot.
    -I think we did almost 18Km of testing. Personally i believe it wasnt enough
    -We did a lot things at the last moment. For example,we put the bodywork for the first time the night before we leave for the event

    About the weight. I know it seems.quite a bit. One reason is that we put solid Chromoly halfshafts with 24mm OD....i proposed the possibility
    To make hollow the shafts but most of the guys of the team afraid...although i provided them with accurate FEA calculations/validation.
    Also i think our bodywork was quite heavy....and stronger than it should be..we had 4 layers of carbon fiber with two fiber orientation setup. The last layer
    Was mostly cosmetic (blue color) 50/50 carbon and polyester. I believe we can chip off like 5-6 kg for sure
    Our intake was made at the last moment. Initially we had a 3d printed intake but it was damaged and we made a steel intake at the last moment

    Next season,we keep the same car but we plan to change all except the chassis.....but also we are thinking of cutting the rear of the frame and make a subframe
    TEIWM Racing Formula SAE Team
    Team Lead Designer/Chassis Designer

  6. #6

    Testing

    Stefanos,

    Most of the teams I judge (an I have judged many) do at least 500 Km of testing before coming to any competition. This year I met a team that made 1850 Km. They showed me their big greasy notebook with all the notes day by day, hour by hour, lap by lap .I have no reason not to believe them.

    1/2 of your time should be dedicated to testing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1n-rgqSTyY

    It does remain a mystery to me why you decide to come to the competition with so little preparation. The failure was guaranteed.

    You learnt, you enjoyed, sure. But with bit more testing and organization and a bit more team spirit you would have gained much more experience and satisfaction.

    The biggest thing you were missing was not hollow drive shafts but project management skills and sense of reality.
    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

  7. #7
    Stefanos,

    first of all, Congratulations. This is a good achievement and while many of the top teams already are playing in nearly professional spheres, we should not forget how difficult it is to start a FSAE team.
    So kudos for that.

    A couple of points that I took from your text / and the answers of Claude of course.

    1) Stop playing the "blame game". It is never the fault of your sponsors(!) if your car is not ready. You just did not anticipate their delay. It will always happen. Just be ready earlier.

    2) FSAE Italy (from my experience) was also rather slow in Tech and stuff but as the others said: If your car is ready for tech, it should normally pass in time of all dynamics as well.
    You can do the Tech checks by yourself. And just be tough to yourself! There is no wiggle room. If the screw is too short, change it.

    3) Ensure that there is continuity in the team. If you and the other important person leave the team, those new teams sometimes tend to implode. Make sure there is a "2nd generation". I don't know why it took you 3 years to build the car. Just make sure you quickly go to a 1year cycle.

    4) As Claude says: You need to test much more. I don't really believe that most teams have 500km before competition. We never had that - and we were/are kind of good and most of the time rather reliable.
    If the first event is in July, you should have a running car in May. That should be sufficient.

    5) What the heck is wrong with your team mates? This is absolutely not acceptable and shows really bad sportsmanship. This is probably the first thing to change.

    6) Focus next year on a reliable, maybe slightly lighter version of your car; make sure you get enough testing in and then focus on a simpler design. Taget should be <200kg in 2019.
    And don't care about Aero. I was part of the "Aero revolution" back in 2012, so I know that it is awesome to feel how much fast you can go with Aero but that is not necessary for your first cars. Focus the man power on something more important.

    Good luck!
    -------------------------------------------
    Alumnus
    AMZ Racing
    ETH Zürich

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

    2014: FSA Engineering Design Judge

  8. #8

    An new, inexperienced team cannot compared with a successful 10 + year team

    Juiian,

    You cannot compare the need of testing of team like the one you belonged to and the one of Stefanos.

    Your team has acquired year after year the best practices in project and people management, design, manufacturing, quality control, testing efficiency, failure analysis, reduced reaction time in case of failure, you name it... that does not require as much testing anymore.

    Moreover you have a system of technology transfer that allow existing and future students to benefit from the success and mistakes that were made by previous team members.

    In simple words for a new, inexperienced team shit WILL happen. For teams like you shift will still happen but much less and less often and you are ready to deal with such issues. Let's make apple to apple comparisons.
    Last edited by Claude Rouelle; 08-20-2017 at 05:34 PM.
    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

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Stuttgart
    Posts
    492
    First of all congratulations for bringing a car to the Event which got all Stickers and was able to start Endurance. That's much more than a lot of rookie Teams achieve.

    As the others already stated. Don't look for whom to blame for things which went wrong. Look at what you could have done yourself to prevent of running out of time etc. You have to take the fact into account that for a Sponsor a FSAE Team is the least important Job to do, as it is the Job you don't earn Money with. The second question is if you handed in your drawings in time and if they were in a Quality which was sufficient for the Sponsor to start manufacturing right away.

    The organisers don't have to provide enough time for every Team to Show up for the inspections multiple time and still take part in all dynamic Events. You're supposed to pass those tests right away. The inspection Sheets are all available. You can do the inspections on your own beforehand to make sure you got everything right. But of course you have to plan the time for that. If you finish your car only a couple of days before the Event you won't have that time.

    According to what you wrote yourself, you did not even a full endurance distance before the Event. With this amount of testing arriving in Driver Change is already a better result than you can expect. The well prepared Teams do multiple endurance simulations over the full distance on a single day of testing. This is what you Need to get your car reliable.

    A proper testing Phase will also give you the possibility to gain confidence in lightweight parts. You can verify your Simulation results in real life. You mentioned FEA calculations you made and your Team didn't trust in. To be honest it is not completely wrong to be very critical about FEA results if you don't have any real life Validation. There is a lot you can do wrong in modelling. And almost more important, where did you have your loads from? As you are a first year Team without the possibility to test anything, how do you know your Suspension and drivetrain Forces. Especially the dynamic Forces in the drivetrain are very hard to calculate correctly and are often underestimated by FS Teams.

    To sum it up. You have to take care to have a car which passes tech without big issues. Also brake test shouldn't take more then two or three attempts if the car is properly prepared and your Driver has enough practice. Then you won't have that much Trouble at the Event to Keep up with the schedule. As soon as you are there you can Focus on the actual Performance of the car.
    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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