Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Formula Student Germany 2017 at Hockenheimring. The 5-day event is a premier racing competition where student teams from around the world compete against each other in self-constructed, formula-style race cars. With 8 to 12 months to prepare for the competition, the teams work tirelessly to design, build and test their cars.
As part of the competition, the teams are judged in two broad categories: dynamic events and static events. The dynamic events are the most exciting part of the contest, with teams getting to race their cars to the limits of autocross, acceleration, skidpad, and endurance events. Speeding around the race track is only part of the competition, however, and other so-called static events, judge the teams on engineering design, cost of manufacturing, and presentation skills .
For me, it was particularly interesting to see how teams were utilizing simulation software such as SimScale to improve their car’s performance and speed. As Abdelrahaman Ibrahim, a senior mechanical engineering student at Ain Shams University and member of the SimScale sponsored ASU racing team, explained:
“Our entire designs are based on computer-aided engineering (CAE), which was one thing that stood out to the design judges. We used stress analysis for every single component of the vehicle to determine the required material and find out the best design in terms reliability. We used computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to further enhance the vehicle’s performance on the track. Since this was our first year to expect to pass the inspections, our target was now enhancing the lap time which could only be done by tuning the aerodynamic behavior of the vehicle.”
For the top teams, computer-aided engineering tools are essential to the design process, allowing the car to be optimized on the computer before manufacturing even begins. It is also a key element in the competition when the teams need to communicate their designs to the judges. Thus, the main question a judge has is why. Why did you do it that way? What was the thought process? Do you really understand why you have designed it this way? Simulations provide the data to back up the why and the results can be presented visually.
SimScale for Student Design Competitions
SimScale is a strong supporter of the next generation of scientists and engineers and provides software, training, and sponsorships to help teams tackle the toughest technical challenges at student design competitions. It is exciting to see how students use SimScale to improve their final designs, taking away valuable skills as they leave school and transition into the professional world.
Student teams can look at the Student Competitions page to request SimScale Sponsorship with the following benefits: One team account, Access to unlimited core hours and private projects, Premium SimScale support via chat.
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