December is an exciting time for all: Summer has officially begun and Christmas and New Year are fast approaching. Over at Monash Motorsport, December is an especially exciting time of year. The team is in its final stages of rigorous testing and statics practice in preparation for this year’s FSAE Australasia Competition. On December 7-10th at Calder Park Raceway, we will be competing with our two cars that have been in development for the last two years. While we have talked about when and where the competition will be held – the structure of the event itself is not commonly talked about.
Let’s take a closer look at the competition and how it is structured. If you have a chance, we would love to see you down at the track!
2016 Formula SAE Australasia Competition: Design Event
Since its conception in 2000, the Formula SAE (FSAE) competition was designed to give Engineering students an opportunity to conceive, manufacture and compete with formula-style race cars against other university teams. The cars that we build are evaluated through a series of events on components similar to a business; technical design, financial management, business management and of course, performance. More importantly, is that the result of each of these components equate to a total taken out of 1000 points which is added to our ranking in the Formula Student Ladder. How the events themselves occur are either on or off-track, otherwise known as Dynamic and Static Events.
Any events on the race track are called Dynamic Events, named after typical vehicle performance measures. These are the Acceleration, Skidpad, Autocross and Endurance and Efficiency. Each event measures how well the vehicle is designed and well it performs based on these design decisions. The faster the events are finished, the higher points scored.
Before any events commence, Scrutineering must occur to evaluate the team’s compliance with FSAE rules and regulations. Technical Inspection, Tilt Table, Noise, Brake and Rain for electric vehicles are the tests required to be passed to ensure that drivers and participants are safe. The Tilt Table test inclines the vehicle at 45° to make sure fluids do not leak, and then at 60° to ensure the vehicle does not roll over. All four wheels of a car must be able to lock at the same time to pass the Brake Test and the car must operate under a specified noise level at idle and speed to pass the Noise Test. Once a car has passed all aspects of the inspection, it is cleared to race.
The Acceleration event is designed to measure the car’s acceleration as it drives over a 75 metre long line. In contrast, Skidpad measures the vehicle’s cornering ability on a flat surface. The event requires two drivers to navigate around a circular lane of 3 metre width. This is a compact squeeze, as the average length of our cars is just under 2 metres.
2016 Formula SAE Australasia Competition: Skidpad Track Layout
Autocross involves two heats with two different drivers, each driving around a tight course under timed conditions without the influence of other vehicles. This is an application of the Skidpad and Acceleration events combines, as it features acceleration, cornering, and braking. The Endurance event stresses the car’s durability and reliability since vehicles cannot be refuelled as it drives a total length of 22 km, against other vehicles around a randomised course. A driver swap occurs half-way through. Efficiency is measured from the same heat as the Endurance event, based on the amount of fuel or energy consumed over the length of the event.
Dynamic events play the largest role in accumulating points for the team throughout the competition, totalling 675 points out of the total 1000 available. However, it is only one half of the battle.
2016 Formula SAE Australasia Competition: Dynamic Event
Static Events involve Cost, Design and Business Presentation – all scenarios that evaluate the team’s project management and communication skills. In Australasia, Static Events are aligned with one another. That is, certain properties and aspects from one event may be referenced in another.
The Cost Event is comprised of three parts that all emphasise the cost of the vehicle. The first section requires a preliminary submission of the Cost Report, involving the calculation of a Bill of Material. The Bill of Material includes the costs of each assembly, process and material used in the creation of each vehicle, under a common currency. The report is usually hundreds of pages long! The second section is a discussion of the cost estimates from the production, engineering and the vehicle itself. Then there is the “real case” – where we are challenged to broadcast estimates, strategies and discussions on the financial viability of the car to a fiscal problem. Similar to other events, Cost challenges student’s presentation and communication skills.
The Design Event is the evaluation of the engineering design decisions that were made during the development of the car. Teams are judged via a questionnaire-type interview on how certain systems were selected and utilised, citing research, testing and analysis of different prototypes during the manufacture of the car. Similar to the Cost Event, there are preliminary documents that must be submitted beforehand so team members can be asked questions on the day of the event.
The final Static Event is Business Presentation is to deliver a comprehensive business case to fictional investors on fulfilling the demand of a certain automotive market in under ten minutes. Relying on professional presentation and visual aids, it is evaluated on the contents, organisation, and the delivery of answers to questions from the judges. Business Presentation differs from the Cost Event as the focus is broader and accompanies the many aspects related to a business; the manufacturing, marketing and profitability that can be earned from the entire concept. Unlike the previous events, Business Presentation does not have any preliminary documents to submit and thus requires heavy preparation and practice.
The 2017 FSAE Australasian Competition will be the 17th competition Monash Motorsport has attended in the region and the first time we have competed with two cars anywhere in the world. We absolutely cannot wait and look forward to seeing you there too!