Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Ok, so I'm going to do a whole post on the Formula Student competition that took place July 11-15 at Silverstone.
The sign into Silverstone as you drive in.

My registration badge!  University of Warwick, Class 1.
Zoe and I went there Wednesday night because registration started early Thursday morning.  The campsite was rainy and cold.  I also had a cold, which didn't help.  However, the guys had it worse, back on campus, dealing with issues with the clutch as they were trying to prepare the car to be ready to be transported down on Thursday, so we could get on with scrutineering the car.
Thursday morning was nice and sunny, as the few of us already at Silverstone (Alison, me, Quirin and Sagar, and Zoe from Class 1 and then most of the Class 2 people) went to stand in line to register at 7:30am.  The Class 2 people- Stevie, Gav, Graham, Ian and Anirudh, along with some others, were busy preparing for the presentation on the design work they had done.
To clarify: Class 1 is a design and build competition, while Class 2 is just a design competition.  Every university does it different, but at Warwick, Class 1 is also considered an academic project for 4th year Engineering Masters students. Class 2 is purely extracurricular and has only been done over the past few years.  However, it has shown to be good preparation for the Class 1 team.  Last year's Class 2 team were mostly on this year's Class 1 team and they did really well in the design competition when they competed in 2011.

We spent the rest of Thursday preparing the pits for the car.  Class 2 had all their presentations to do.  They did a lot of work, but in the end, had forgotten to submit a very important report, which cost them all of their points, so they ended up not scoring very well overall in the Class 2 competition.

The Scrutineering Building.  Every car has to pass a strict evaluation of how it is built and works in order to be able to run in the competitions.

Hooray!  Camping in my rain gear!  I got those wellies for £5.  Nevermind that they are for kids.....

Back on campus- the guys were working hard to troubleshoot some issues with the clutch with the technicians.  Here, Carl is giving some very wise advice.  :)  From left to right: Gav, Quirin, Anirudh (on the car), Markus, Carl and Murray.

Meanwhile, back on campus, they had figured out the issue with the clutch.  (Apparently a washer had been put on wrong) and were scrambling to get the engine mapped and get the car down to Silverstone.  Those of us at Silverstone were getting nervous about our place in the queue for Scrutineering.  Even though a team could go to Scrutineering at any point during the competition, they could only compete in the 4 main racing events at certain times- and the car has to pass Scrutineering BEFORE it can participate in any dynamic event.  We also had to spend some time on Thursday refining the business presentation for Class 1 on Friday and I was organizing myself for my meeting with Bosch on Friday afternoon to discuss setting up events for next year that will help me with a case study for my EngD research.

One of the trucks around Silverstone.  I think it looked cool.

A electric car that was on display.  This car had driven across America

Finally, Thursday evening, the car arrived in the pits.  It was too late to take it to Scrutineering, but it was planned to get in the queue early the next morning.

Sagar and Alison during the Business Presentation
The team during the design judging

On Friday morning, the team had to take the car to various static events for the Design and Cost & Sustainability reports.  This was where the team talked with judges about why they made certain decisions with how they designed and manufactured the car.  The team did very well in both of these events, coming in 21st in Design and 9th in Cost and Sustainability.  Directly after these events, the car went to get Scrutineered and those of us involved with the Business presentation got ready for that afternoon.  Sagar, Alison and Quirin went to practice the presentation and I had a coffee with Steve Maggs (one of my academic advisors) to discuss my plan for my meeting with Bosch, which was just after the business presentation.    The business presentation went very well.  The team, with my help, had decided to use the idea of Open Sourcing Hardware Design in their business model.  The judges were fairly skeptical of this, but we argued it well and we got positive feedback for being creative.  Overall, we placed 3rd in the Business presentation, out of 150 total teams from across the world.  Not too shabby!
The building where the business presentation was 

Daz and Carl came on Friday to lend us a hand with their mad technical car skills.  :)

Ryan and the team discuss the shifter.

The rest of the team were working on dealing with Scrutineering...which was not going well.  By the end of the day on Friday, the car still had not passed- but we had a short list of things that could be easily fixed to get it to pass.  The team worked until the pits closed at 11pm to get these things done and were planning on getting the car to Scrutineering early in the morning to get it passed.  Included to be done in Scrutineering was also the Brake Test, the Tilt Test and the Noise Test, all which had queues of other teams waiting as well.  Two of the dynamic events- the Skid Pad and the Acceleration event, had to be completed by 12pm on Saturday.  And we still had to pass those three tests and get a final pass from the Scrutineering judges.  Unfortunately, there was simply not enough time.  The car passed, but not until afternoon.

Andy did some driving for the Brake test

So, that afternoon, they did compete in the sprint event.  It finished the event, but placed last in the cars that finished.  Saturday night, we relaxed a bit and got ready for the the last event on Sunday, the endurance event.

There was much debauchery that was going on in the campsite on Saturday- including reconnaissance  or various camp site signs and the kidnapping of a gnome.  Which resulted in a very angry Irishman coming to our tents.  A very diplomatic agreement was made in the end....

Sagar and I went to the closest town, Towester (pronounced Toaster) and we found a door with a wall built in it....

But, we found the other side!

Sunday morning, we started strong for endurance.  Markus was driving the first leg, and Darren would be driving the second.  Our car ended up being quite quick at this event, passing several cars and looking good.  We were all watching from the grandstand, several of previous FS team members, and Steve, Howard, and Nick Mallinson from Warwick.  Also, lots of parents came out to support everyone as well.  We saw that they were coming to an end and we were going to place well, so we ran over to see the finish....

Unfortunately, one of the sidepods had come loose two laps from the end (the Endurance run was a 23 lap event), which counts as a DNF for the whole event.  The car was running very well and was doing so good, to be out at the end like that, but it is a testament to the amount of effort everyone on the team put in over the year.  They have made a very good car for next year's team, as well as established the best knowledge transfer system to date for Warwick's FS team.  I am excited to see how much next year's group will improve!  Please enjoy some videos of the car I took below:

This is a longer video of Darren driving during the endurance event:

This is a video of us passing the Brake test

This is a video of the Endurance run- the car passed another car!

This is another video of the Endurance run, Markus was driving here

This is a video of one of the electric cars practicing.  So quiet!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Driving Test, Networking Event, Farnborough Air Show

Ok, so I'm just going to have a post about everything I've done in the past few weeks that wasn't related to Formula Student, then I'm going to have a post directly after this one that will be completely FS related.

First of all, on July 3rd, I took and past the written portion for my British driving license!  I was able to then sign up for my practical test, which I will be taking the day after my birthday, in a little under three weeks' time!  I'm feeling pretty confident about this, I had a really good lesson on Wednesday, where my instructor said I could have passed my test.  I think this would call for a candy bar here called a Time Out.  (I think this is funny, since a Time Out is what you make naughty children do back home.  Doesn't mean that here)
Time Out candy bar.  The tagline is "Everyone need some Time Out"  LOL.
On July 5, I went to South Yorkshire to the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP)Technology Centre.  There was a networking event hosted by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) that was bringing together various industry representatives that are working on Fuel Cell technology in the UK.  I made a lot of interesting contacts that will hopefully begin some form of collaboration with WMG.  I've been working with Nick Mallinson on facilitating these a bit for the funding initiative at WMG that is called the Catapult.  You can read more about this here.

The AMP was a zero-carbon facility, using a wind turbine, in conjunction with electrolyzers and fuel cells to generate all the power for the building.  The wind turbine would generate the energy to product hydrogen that would then run the fuel cells on demand to power the building.  Here are some pictures of that!
The wind turbine at the AMP

The electrolyzer stations right next to the turbine.
On July 10, I went to the International Farnborough Air Show.  WMG had a booth there and I went as a representative of the Engineering Doctorate program.  I talked to a few other EngD students from the University of Southhampton, as well as a few engineers from Rolls Royce.  They were there with a working model of a plane engine, completely built from Legos.  I also got to see some planes do tricks!  I took several videos, see below!

 This is a video of the lego model of a plane engine, with one of the Rolls Royce engineers explaining how it works.

This is a longer video of four blue planes doing a really neat show

This is a shorter video of the same planes, part of the same show.  Really cool to watch.

The day after the air show, I went to Silverstone, but those details are for the next post!