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Formula SAE

The time of reconing is almost upon us and our team from Brum uni!! only 9 days to go till competition day!

Smaller, Lighter and Faster: Students' Race Car Breaks New Ground

Students from the University of Birmingham's School of Engineering are getting revved up to launch their new racing car. The car will be officially unveiled at 3pm at the University's Chancellor's Court.

The product of months of hard work by 26 Engineering students, this year's car has been designed to be lighter and smaller in order to maximise its performance on the race track.

This is the eighth racing car to be designed and made from scratch by Birmingham's Mechanical and Electrical Engineering students. They are asked to assume that a manufacturer has commissioned them to produce a prototype car that will be evaluated and put into full production. The car must have high performance acceleration, braking and handling characteristics while other factors such as aesthetics and driver comfort must also be taken into account.

The car is 20 percent lighter than its predecessor largely due to the vastly redesigned, compact chassis. The team has worked hard to achieve a balance between making the car lighter and hence faster, whilst still maintaining its strength and reliability. A new pedal box and power train assembly has been developed in conjunction with the chassis to meet tight packaging constraints. Extensive analysis has been performed on the engine leading to a number of high performance modifications to aid efficiency and power output. The braking system has also been heavily reworked to incorporate a six calliper arrangement utilising a combination of Formula One and Superbike technology whilst the suspension system contains bespoke springs and dampers which are optimised for ultimate vehicle handling.

Dominick O'Connell, Project Team Leader, says, 'After taking part in the Formula Student competition in Australia and meeting with other competitors last year, we came up with a strategy to create a new lighter, smaller car that would build on the previous Birmingham designs. We have worked around the clock to finish the car and are looking forward to racing it to find out if we have succeeded in achieving our goals.'

Birmingham graduates who have taken part in this project have gone on to work for Ford, Jaguar, Jordan F1, Williams F1, Maclaren F1 and Rolls Royce. Professor David Hukins, Head of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, says, 'This is an excellent opportunity for students who want to follow a career in engineering. Not only do they benefit from the expertise Birmingham has to offer in the field of automotive engineering, but in learning how to design and build a race car, they are acquiring many other skills such as budgeting, team working, decision making and management issues. These kinds of experiences are what make Birmingham engineering students very appealing to employers.'

After the launch the car will be put through its paces during an intensive testing session before it is taken to Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Leicester where the team will take part in the Formula Student competition in July. The car will be raced against 40 other university teams from all over the world.


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