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Thread: High School FSAE Team Progress

  1. #81
    I'm sticking with my guns on this one. I'm applying things I've learned in graduate level classes, and there are times I still feel I'm out-classed in FSAE. Look at the way many teams struggle with the help of their colleges, faculty advisers, or even just a bunch of old folks like me who played around in the real world a few years before coming to college. Look at the issues beyond building the car, like project management, team building, sponsorship, PR, etc; hell, it's a wonder college kids can even pull it off.

    A few short years ago, all it took to get a top 10 finish in FSAE was a well-tuned, reliable vehicle that made it through endurance. We did just that in '06. But looking at how things went down at MIS last week, the competition is just getting too fierce to be a top finisher without applying the kind of engineering fundamentals that really smart high school kids don't find out until they become really smart college kids.

    Imagine trying to understand Milliken or OptimumG without having taken at least a basic course in dynamics. Maybe if they spent a couple more years busting their butts in high school physics and calculus; at which point they would no longer be high school kids. Sure, high school kids could get a car built, and no doubt get it to pass tech., but they would have almost no chance at a top finish. Imagine talking to Claude in design back when you were 15. I almost wet myself when I was 27.

    On the other hand, if they entered a simpler class like Formula Vee, they could get 90% of the experience, and have a really good shot at beating a lot of folks. They could apply all the rules of basic design, mechanics and fabrication without getting tangled in all the BS that goes along with an engineering competition, and have a lot of fun.

    By eliminating all the higher level stuff involved with FSAE, more people would get involved. And I would try to get them all to come to ISU
    Dr. Adam Witthauer
    Iowa State University 2002-2013 alum

    Mad Scientist, Gonzo Racewerks Unincorporated, Intl.

  2. #82
    The physics and calculus classes I had in high school covered most of what I learned in statics and dynamics in college - in fact, I passed it based on what I remembered from high school. The biggest benefit I had was the materials class, and none of that was even particularly involved mathematically. Perhaps I'm a little skewed on my conception of the average high schooler coming from a smaller private school, but I think other than the calc-III and calc-IV classes (that students just don't have enough time to cover in high school) there isn't anything that isn't solvable with calc I and II skills you learn in HS. Even the differentials that govern damping and aerodynamics can be (and are often) reduced to algebraic equations.

    Talking to the design judges was somewhat intimidating, but I don't see how age would change that. In terms of my willingness to discuss things with people obviously more knowledgeable than myself, I've always approached it with eagerness, since I know that any misconceptions I do have I can correct in simple discussion.

    I agree that a simpler racing series would be easier. I do wish my high school had a racing team - any form of racing. It would have been a good primer for FSAE and saved me some of the front-loaded learning.
    OU Sooner Racing Team Alum '09


  3. #83
    I agree with Adambomb. A top car takes knowledge applied at the graduate level nowadays.

  4. #84
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by FeX32:
    I agree with Adambomb. A top car takes knowledge applied at the graduate level nowadays. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I don't know about that. Looking over a lot of the top level schools, I really don't see a whole lot that a dedicated undergrad (or even high school student) wouldn't be able to pull off. I think the big difference between the top teams and the middle of the pack is probably just a combination of people and resource management (knowledge and time in particular), and overall design refinement, not design fundamentals.

    But if you look at most of the cars from schools that traditionally finish outside the top 30 you'll see a lot of mistakes that I don't think you even need to be an engineer to see. You'll see rod ends in bending, frame tubes in bending and torsion, etc. but you'll also see alignments way out in left field, cars that don't sound even close to running right, and some massive compliances.

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