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Thread: Try something different or be safe conservative?

  1. #11
    tgww, The same Honda engine.


    Paul Clausen
    Uni of Adelaide

    Paul Clausen

    Adelaide University 2004 Team

  2. #12
    Hi Guys

    I don't think there is a standard route. You learn as much as you want to. After all you only get out what you put in.

    As long as you understand why you do what you do and you do it well, i think the judges will appreciate it.

    From our point of view every car we have built been quite different. There were no carry over parts from the 2001 to the 2002 except the engine, no parts even fitted on the new car except for the engine. We have made three completely different suspension systems that use their tyres very differently. We have quite a few features that I haven't seen many other teams do, its just they don't jump out at you. The judges know what they are.

    An example on the 2002 car, stumpy, (that went to America in 2003) was a custom made system to gain shock speed histograms, it cost us $10 total. I think that is very innovative. It is just not very obvious.

    Good Luck to everybody getting their cars ready for the American Competition this May. Make sure you come by our pit and say hi.

    Eddie Martin
    UOW Racing

  3. #13
    Hi again Paul,
    Do you have my mobile number? I will have it with me all day. I'll be in the office all day so its okay to call

    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy
    The trick is ... There is no trick!

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
    My opinion, forget convention, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Following others only limits the boundaries of your own creativity, but it does give you a benchmark to aim for. Ask yourself what's the purpose of the car? I'm going for the premise that it's to get a person around a track as quickly and safely as possible. But then again i'm also of the belief that FSAE cars are far too complicated for their intended use. The same addreniline pumping ride could be had for the weekend autocrosser with a far cheaper and simpler solution, but who am I to judge?

    If your design handles as good or better than "conventional" designs or has benefits in weight, cost, or manufacturability then why not? Just because other teams have had success with alternate designs?

    Ask Pat what he thinks, his advice is invaluable. It'd be interesting to see your "unconventional" design if you do decide to run with it. It's great to see teams pushing the boundaries and making people think. Who knows, we both might rock up in the second week of December sporting the same peculiar design...

    I wish you and your team all the best.

    Aaron Harnden
    Phantom Engineering
    Chief Design Engineer 2004

    I may not always be right, but i'm never wrong...
    Aaron Harnden
    Phantom Engineering
    Chief Design Engineer 2004

    I may not always be right, but i'm never wrong...

  5. #15
    Interesting topic this one. If it's competition success your after and not just "the educational" side your after, there two main things that are going to count in my view.

    You and the team. You have to point out the innnovation to the judges and make them see the benefits. We only get 30 minutes with the design judges so you have to make every word count. Judges shouldn't have to look for the innovative design. Having visited and spoken to Eddie, and seen the story boards, its very clear cut why they are so successful.

    Secondly, the judges themselves. Some judges are open to innovation, some are not. In particular it's hard for a new design judge to see the benefits of innovation having not seen the cars on track yet. So really all they know is off fast cars in past events. That's why, in my opinion, design should always be judged after the dynamic events. At least the judges could then see the innovatice design worked.


  6. #16
    I'm with Kevin and Eddie. Don't think innovation is something that has to stand out and say 'I'm different'.

    If you 'forget convention' thats a huge mistake, because its probably convention for a reason. And I also think doing something different JUST because its different is a huge mistake.

    The great ideas are the ones that not only find a new solution to a problem, but a BETTER solution. I mean, you can walk with your hands just fine, you can even make really cool carbon fiber hand-shoes and everything, but I think the feet are still more effective.

    Our 03 car was pretty damn plain. We didn't plan on being conservative per say, we had plenty of wild ideas. But most of them were proved to not be worthwhile. That said, our goal in 03 was to build a robust car that had a good chance to finish in the top 10 (which we'd never come close to doing before). I think the cars performance is a testament to solid design theory (not trying to be different, just trying to do the best possible thing).

    And then there were a few ideas that proved themselves worth doing like our shifting setup...

    -Charlie Ping

    I just need enough to tide me over until I need more.
    -Charlie Ping

    Auburn FSAE Alum 00-04

  7. #17
    sure WWU could of built a steel tube frame car and even might of won...

    ...but then there wouldnt be the V8 car...

    by all means try crazy ideas!

    jack @ WWU
    College dropout extraordinaire
    (formerly WWU Rev-Hone Racing)

  8. #18
    My thoughts on this were made public in a little piece I wrote 3-4 years ago on team management. Nothing has changed.

    As has been stated here often by Pat and others (as well as in Carroll's little paper on design judging) your job as competitors is to convince those of us who (or in my case, who may, as I don't know if I am yet) judge your entry of the merits of your design.

    The best way is very simple - PERFORM! Even if it's after-the-fact in Oz and the UK. (In the US the finals are held after the performance events.)

    Carroll Smith and I were discussing this topic one time over some beers at Big Buck's in Detroit. He pointed out something that is really obvious to someone my age, which is that Jim Hall had the opportunity to live in both worlds.

    His innovative days ran from the early 60's through 1970. A lot of that innovation came from Chevrolet. (Paul Van Valkenburgh was involved in some of that, and when he was a design judge he specifically liked to look for innovation.) Fiberglass chassis construction, wings, automatic transmissions and ground-effects aerodynamics were just a few of the things that were on Chaparral cars. However he didn't win that much...

    In the 1970's, Jim moved into a partnership with Carl Haas, and ran Brian Redman in Lola F5000 cars. There wasn't one whole heck of a lot of innovation in those cars, and the team concentrated on preparation and racecraft. They also dominated the series. When the series morphed into Can-Am II, they did the same the first few years. In 1978, he won the triple crown (Indianapolis, Pocono and Ontario) with Al Unser with a terrible (conceptually) Lola chassis, that was developed. When John Barnard designed the 2K, the concept of using the underbody airflow to produce downforce was no longer innovative, as Lotus had introduced it in the 78 and 79. In fact the car didn't do well in 1979, and it took some development before it completely dominated the series the following year.

    One of the first questions I ask student design groups is "What is your overall objective?" If you're trying to innovate you may not perform too well until the concept is fully developed.

    This topic has been debated on-and-off since the early days of SAE student vehicle competitions. A lot of faculty members, having been trained as researchers, want to look for new and innovative ways to do things. Some faculty advisors (and even a few judges) having seen the competition for a number of years, are somewhat bored with it, and want a new, innovative challenge. Gross changes appeal to such folks.

    I've always thought that given the turnover inherent in student groups, the challenge remains fresh. The better schools maintain some sort of continuity and their designs tend to be incremental. If one looks closely, one can see that there has been a lot of redesign and development. It's not usually apparent superficially, but it's there. Those schools tend to do well - maybe not every year - but more often than not. There is an awful lot of new detail design work and development in those cars.

    Practical engineers face the reality of making things work - technically, economically, environmentally, etc. These competitions serve to develop those skills.

    The Mini-Baja rules still say: "The object of the competition is to simulate real-world
    engineering design projects and their related challenges."

    The FSAE rules don't quite put it that way, but it is still there.

    Is there innovation in the real-world? Of course there is. However that innovation must still be developed.

    It's up to you as to how you approach the project. Learning to accept responsibility for one's decisions is an important intangible one learns here. You get to decide what your overall objective is. You get to set your design specifications and performance targets when developing a plan to meet that objective. (Design reviews were due a few days ago, but insightful readers will note my outline for writing one or presenting one's design to the judges in those words.) You have to be comfortable with those decisions, and accept the consequences.

    It's a simple as that! <grin>

    - Dick

  9. #19
    Thanks Dick, that is more or less what I was going to tell Paul when he called me....but I am still waiting for the phone to ring =]

    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy
    The trick is ... There is no trick!

  10. #20
    Hi again guys,

    Thanks for all that.

    Your phone was unavailable when I tried in the morning Pat.

    Anyhow, we decided to stick with our non standard solution to the problem of getting the power to the ground.


    Paul Clausen
    Uni of Adelaide

    Paul Clausen

    Adelaide University 2004 Team

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