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Thread: Two simple rules to improve results.

  1. #21
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Raleigh, NC

    Man muss in kaltes Wasser springen


    My time in FSAE is short but the team's body of knowledge is large.
    That is why the same teams, in pretty much every collegiate sport or competition, stay near the top or bottom.

    From the scorn that is heaped on the cars on even mid field teams it is clear that pretty much everyone is dissatisfied with the current state of things.
    Teams that show up with a non-competitive unreliable car one year tend to do so year after year.
    Teams rarely continuously improve and I would bet that some of the ‘top’ teams are heavily dependent on momentum.

    A well run organization team tends to remain well run.
    A poorly run organization tends to remain poorly run unless acted on by an outside force.

    If the goal is for them to learn then we should not be so upset when they fail; that is how they will learn.
    And the students will learn the same key lessons if their car is a carbon fiber dream or a 500kg mess.
    FSAE is mostly about engineering project management.
    Students dump time into suspension and chassis design and then never use it; while the lessons about how to organize a team will last their entire career.

    So you are correct that the best way is to jump in cold water.
    But that also means most teams will never improve beyond their current level of performance.
    If you want more teams to compete at a high level or even just finish endurance then a solution with intermediate steps is needed.

    It is not the individual students that need to improve; they are already learning the correct lessons.
    It is the teams as organizations that need to be pushed to do better.

    What did you think about the other idea of having a mini event a few weeks before the large competitions?


  2. #22
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Perth, Western Australia
    I did an informal game theory study of my own a few years back having a look at the trade-off between reliability and performance (if they were mutually exclusive). The results were pretty clear.

    If you are looking for wins larger competitions favour chasing performance over reliability. In fact good engineering judgement would lead you to choose performance over reliability.

    Simply imagine that you have a 2 team competition:

    Team 1: 49% reliability, 51% performance
    Team 2: 51% reliability, 49% performance

    The possible results are:

    Both teams finish (~25%) team 1 wins
    Both teams fail (~25%) no team wins
    Team 2 finishes, team 1 does not (~25%), team 2 wins
    Team 1 finishes, team 2 does not (~25%), team 1 wins

    The team with the slight performance advantage wins about twice as often as the other.

    I won't go through the full study, but you can find an ideal trade-off to maximise chances of winning. It gets a lot worse for larger competitions. In a small competition a decent strategy is to focus on reliability and wait for the others to fail. In a large competition the odds are against everyone else failing.

    This plays out in real life. In a small competition a reliable, but lower performance car can take podiums reasonably regularly. In these comps it is smart engineering practice to bank these results. In larger comps there are no podiums for the reliable but slower cars. What Claude would say is poor engineering in a comp like Australia is way off base as these teams are being rewarded for reliability. Similarly suggesting it is bad engineering practice to focus on performance rather than reliability in larger comps is also flawed.

    I appreciate that this simple study is heavily flawed and that reliability and performance are not mutually exclusive.


    If you want to encourage reliability you need to reward it (or punish unreliability). This should be as direct as possible. Weight limits, videos, and increased cost scores are indirect ways to encourage reliability. A more direct way would be a reliability score component.

    My idea would be a reliability multiplier for the final score. Any missed heats would decrease it from 1 downwards. That way all of your events (including design) are directly reduced by low reliability. Intuitively this makes sense, even if a car is well designed, well marketed, and low cost if it doesn't work it is a bad product. As soon as your car is able to do all of the heats then all of the points are on offer, This means no change to the winners, the best teams will still be the highest performing reliable teams.

    There are some things you can do to reduce the focus on performance, such as changing the Tmin multipliers for Autocross and Endurance, but I don't think that really helps the competition.


  3. #23
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Spoken by President of Organising Committee.

    (As I would like to hear it.)

    "Well, another year, ... and another COMPLETE DEBACLE! What is the matter with you young people!!!? This is not a difficult problem! Build a small car. Drive it 30 kms. That is all we are asking of you. So, how is it possible that so many of you TOTALLY STUFF-UP SUCH A SIMPLE TASK!!!?

    [...More general observations follow, then...]

    Now I better get onto some specifics.

    Let's start with you lot over there, Team-Useless. You no-hopers have been bringing near exactly the same car to this competition for as long as I can remember, at least five years now. Five years ago you managed to get through Acceleration and Skid-pad, and only then did your wheels fall off. But this year you FAILED TO FINISH EVERY SINGLE DYNAMIC EVENT! DISGRACEFUL!! PATHETIC!!!

    And don't you clowns in Team-Cock-Up start sniggering, because you're even worse. Couldn't get through Scrutineering because the foot-box template didn't fit? Which IMBECILE was responsible for that? Come on, stand up so everyone can see you...

    [...More detailed analysis...]

    On the up-side, we are fortunate that the Committee has at last adopted the "Will M Relegation Rule". So all you tail-ender buffoons can go off and play your silly games in F-Baja, or Formula-Sewing-Machine, or whatever. You're not coming back here until we've seen that you've pulled your fingers out!

    And so we get to the mid-field teams. Yep, you lot, Team-Plod, Team-Dawdle, and the rest of you pretenders.

    Yes, sure, you all finished all the events, and you all managed to crack that piddling average speed of 50 kph in Enduro. SO WHAT? BIG DEAL! You're NOT here to simply repeat what every half-competent team has done before you. Just copying last year's successful cars is NOT ENGINEERING! You are here to PUSH THE ENVELOPE!

    [...More such encouraging words to the mediocre teams...]

    So, finally, we get to those teams that came first in the various events. And I should remind all of you that NO ONE REMEMBERS WHO CAME SECOND! Second is just the first LOSER!

    Anyway, the names of the first placed teams are pinned to the noticeboard, and they can pick up their trophies on the way out. [Mumbles->] Whose stupid idea is this "trophy" thing, anyway?

    So, that closes proceedings for this year, and...

    [Prez gets nudged by his assistant and handed a message.]

    Oh, yeah, well, one more thing. Seems that there has been some lobbying from the so-called "progressives" on the Committee. They say we should give more, ...ughhh..., "praise" to the first-place getters. So, here goes. In the words of the great Rugby League coach, Jack Gibson, I say to those teams that came first in the various events,
    "Yuz done what yuz was asked to do".

    Right, that's it for this year. And for those of you coming back next year, there'll be HELL TO PAY if you don't lift your game!"


    (PS: You only "learn from your mistakes", when the mistakes HURT.)
    Last edited by Z; 03-16-2017 at 06:55 AM.

  4. #24
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Lawrence, KS
    Z, I have a lot of respect for your design philosophies and engineering / physics knowledge.

    But if your management / motivational ideas were any good, you'd be getting paid a lot of money to lead engineering projects. There's a reason you're just yelling at college students on an internet forum instead.

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Rouelle View Post

    Last advice: have a plan B (and ideally a plan C) for each plan A for each part of the car. Example: your front wheel hub break. OK, bad drawing, bad manufacturing, shit happen that what this competition is about. 2 solutions A) you go home you redesign the hubs, reorder the material (you would be luck to have it next week), machine again, possible heat or surface treatment . you easily loose 3 to 6 weeks. B) you fit last year upright / hub / caliper and you loose just a few hours. Was that in the plans?
    Just curious, are you suggesting teams should maintain the same basic kinematics/ upright design each year, or are you suggesting that even if you have to jury rig it to work, and the handling is now shot, just running/testing the car like that is better than not running at all during the redesign process?

    - Noah
    Last edited by noah; 03-16-2017 at 03:53 PM. Reason: forum etiquette

  6. #26

    Inside-Out better than Outside-in


    You are looking for outside-in solutions for a minor problem that can be solved easily with some honesty, objectivity and an inside-out attitude.

    You might find some advice here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1n-rgqSTyY

    As far as mini event(s) a few weeks before the competition I suggest you to start thinking about it once you will be able to run 10 endurances without any problem; that would be a good intermediate step to gain confidence and avoid waste time and money, and embarrassment.


  7. #27

    No I did not say that.

    OK you destroy your from hubs and now it's gonna take at least 6 weeks to order new material, re-machine etc... During this time your engine guys stupidly wait to tune the ECU on real conditions (not on the test bench anymore). Could be that you have an issue with your drive shaft CV joint that you won't know about only at he competition... too late. And your drivers are terribly missing training time.

    When you face that kind damage control and you need track time, do you think that 500 mm difference in VSAL or 50 mm of roll center height or 20% or Ackermann difference is still a #1 priority?

    Look at the large picture!


  8. #28

    I completely agree with you. I just wanted to make sure I was on the same page. Problems similar to this are very familiar and is something my team is dealing with right now. I just wasn't sure if you were advocating for utilizing last years parts for competition or just as a stopgap measure. (Also, test bench ECU Tuning. Ha...!)


  9. #29
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Raleigh, NC

    It is Always A Managment Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Rouelle View Post

    You are looking for outside-in solutions for a minor problem that can be solved easily with some honesty, objectivity and an inside-out attitude.


    Alright, we aren't on the same page and clearly aren't going to get there.
    To me this is an issue of structure and incentives.
    The teams and students are acting rationally and are unlikely to change without outside pressure.

    I graduated too long ago to pick a fight, but clearly nothing has changed and the FSAE leadership is OK with the status quo.


  10. #30

    Move on


    Need OUTSIDE pressure to succeed? I have employees who build pressure for themselves, on their own. THAT is Inside-Out solution. These are people who know that if they are not part of the solution they are part of the problem. If I build pressure on them that is because something is going wrong and thankfully that should and is not happening very often.

    You got side track in your management analysis. If you think you need pre-mini events to build pressure so that you car becomes reliable in real competitions, then I feel there is a great chance you and your team need to first create some abilities to believe and yourself/themselves and from there create a action plan.

    Again 10 endurance runs without any failure on your own test track. Then you can get out and face the world with much, much more confidence. Any pre-event with other teams (mandatory or informal) before that would be a waste of time, energy and focus.

    You are right FSAE/FS design judges do not change: we need to continuously tell some students (or ex-students) like you to kick your own butt!.

    Create your own structure and your own incentives. Do not wait for somebody else to do it for you.
    Last edited by Claude Rouelle; 03-16-2017 at 07:08 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

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