Monday, May 7, 2012

Cambridge, Fuel Cell Talks, Tea Time and Formula Student...always Formula Student...

So a week ago Sunday, I went with Sagar, Andy and Ryan from the Formula Student team to Cambridge to meet up with last year's chief engineer, Will Playford, who is a PhD student at Cambridge now.  Will has set up his own small CNC business and is going to help the team manufacture the pedals for the car, we went to Cambridge to take him some aluminium for this task.  We also got a tour of his workshop, which was pretty interesting.  You can check out his website here:  It was inspiring to me to see a PhD student also working on a small business, this is starting to become a bigger interest for me.  Just need to find a good idea....
The CNC machine

Sagar models a gear made by the machine

Will explains to Ryan how the machine works.

I found Jaffa Cake BARS at the Petrol (gas) station!!

The river in Cambridge from the car

Over the course of the week, the whole team had various assignments due in, as they prepare for the annual exam period.  The UK system is much different than the US system.  Whereas we have exams at the end of each semester (term), they have all their exams for the year over a few weeks in May and June.  So courses (modules) they took in the fall (autumn) they are just now going to have a final (exam) for.  This means heavy studying (revision) for the team members.  Everyone on the team is in their fourth year.  Unlike our system back home, a bachelors degree only takes 3 years here, with the option to stay another year for a masters.  The team members will graduate in July with Masters (in either Mechanical or Automotive engineering - about 75% of the team is Automotive).  This means they don't have a bachelors degree.  It's an interesting system.  I don't think I like the idea of the stress of exams being compacted over such a long time (3-4 weeks) and only once a year.  Needless to say, the stress levels are a bit high.  Glad I'm a post grad with no exams....

Anyways, towards the end of the week, the team decided it would be good to try to put in some effort to get the chassis ready for powder coating.  We went in early on Friday and worked all day, but unfortunately, there was just too much to be done.  The team is now no longer allowed to work on the car until June, after exams.  I however, will be working a bit (when I am not hanging out with Melissa) with the technicians to hopefully ease up the workload a bit for when the team can get back to working on the car.
Harness mounts in the chassis.  I made those bad boys.  Boo yah.

The resulting hemp fiber structure that was made at KS Composites a few days earlier.  It did not pass the crash test......

Me in the spaceframe!

Sagar, angle grinding wishbones for the suspension

Some of the pieces for the harness mounts that I made on the lathe.

On Saturday, I went to the monthly meeting for the Renewable Energy Club in Warwickshire, which was held conveniently at the Methodist Church down the street from me.  I was supposed to give a 20 minute talk on Fuel Cell technologies and applications...and I ended up talking for over an hour.  It was really good though, there were a lot of interested people in the group.  I'd say there was about 15-20 people, so I really enjoyed chatting with everyone about my past research and current developments.  It's a really good group of people I hope to get more involved with during my time here.

On Sunday, I went to the afternoon service at church, which was a bit more informal.  It was a lot of fun, and I was asked to read the closing prayer, which was really nice.  Afterwards, Anne invited me over for tea at her house.  Anne and John have had me over before for Sunday roast a few weeks ago, and they are a great couple to chat with.  John teaches a German course at the University and does various translating.  He has a very cool model train set up in his garden shed, with all sorts of switches and such that I got to see yesterday as well.  Their garden is lovely too, I should take pictures the next time I visit to put up here!

Today was a bank holiday and I had plans to bike into campus today, but it started raining this morning and has been raining all day, so I ended up staying home and cleaning a bit.  Aurelie is finishing up a paper that she has to turn in tonight (I'm going to proofread it in a bit) and we are going to go for a run soon.

Melissa comes to visit a week from Tuesday!!  WOOT!
Pizza from the local pizza place.  It was really good (veggie).  Never had corn on a pizza, which is surprising, coming from the midwest and Indiana, but it's actually really good.  I recommend it.


  1. Of course you found Jaffa cake bars. You could probably smell them from outside the gas station. Lol.

  2. Hi. Just stumbled across this - thanks for the exposure.

    There is now an official formula student discount on webpage (plus a better ratio of pretty pictures)

    Hope all is well at Warwick,


    1. Hi Will! Glad you found it! And I really enjoyed the visit and am happy to post your stuff here! Good luck with your PhD and I look forward to chatting with you in the future!