Come check us out as we proudly display the 2014 combustion and electric cars for the first time! The event will be held on May 1st in Kane Hall, room 130, at 6:30pm. You're welcome to arrive as early as 5:30pm. Convenient parking is available in the Central Plaza Garage (15th Ave NE and 41st St.) with access directly to Kane Hall. Thank you and we look forward to seeing all of you at the event!
Sharing science with the next generation
From April 4 to 6, members of the Seattle community were given the opportunity to gain hands on experience in science – from finding out how well you washed your hands to getting into a formula car.
Over 11, 361 visitors came to the Pacific Science Center during its Paws-on Science event, during which many members of the UW scientific research community from a wide array of departments across the campus showed off their work.
“[Paws-on Science is about] Getting kids interested in science,” said Conrad Chahary, of the Composites Manufacturing R&D team and one of the Formula hosts at Paws-on Science. “Engineering is becoming more and more competitive and we need bright minds to lead the future.”
Outreach like this is meant to inspire the next generation of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics experts to become more proficient with these fields before they get out of primary school. The more you learn now, the easier it is higher up.
While the team was able to meet a wide variety of children to inspire, the children themselves also got to hear a lot about how diverse our team is. We don’t just have mechanical engineers, but also electrical engineers, human-centered design engineers, (and one lonely journalism major!). The children were able to learn how one can participate without being the best at math.
Events like this don’t just inspire the youth of tomorrow, being able to interact and inspire such young minds impacts our team, too. Sheena Kapur, administrative director of the team, remembers one such little boy, around 9 years old, whose father was asking him questions as they walked around the car. If the son got it wrong, the father would correct the child and explain why.
“This stuck out to me because it's great to see parents supporting their child's development by letting them think through problems, while also gently guiding them when needed,” said Kapur. “And by bringing their children to Paws-on Science, that's what parents are doing-helping their children grow intellectually.”
While Paws-on Science is only a once a year event, you can be sure to see the Formula Motorsports team return to the intellectually inspiring halls of the Pacific Science Center in the future.
“[Paws-on Science was] Very rewarding,” said Joe Thorton of the electric drivetrain team. “Seeing kids get excited about engineering/science is a great feeling.”
For the past 30 days, the UW Formula Motorsports has hosted their own crowdfunding project in order to afford some expensive, and non-donated, parts for our combustion and electric cars. We started out looking for $10,000 and our supporters didn't disappoint.
Last year's crowdfunding experience fueled us to new fundraising goals and to capitalize on newly emerging social networks and technologies. Our decisions and hard work (via Twitter and Facebook) paid off and, at the end the 30 days, 91 donors contributed $11,206 towards our racecar needs. That's 112 percent of our goal and over $4,000 more than the amount raised in 2013.
"Since undertaking the [electric] car project along with the combustion car project, it has been a large financial burden," said Sheena Kapur, administrative team lead. "But with help through the selfstarter we are able to fund such projects such as that."
For electronics lead Panacea Fang, the success of the SelfStarter crowdfunding means that she can purchase sensors that will enable her to read all kinds of data from the car. Even though they are expensive, the variety of sensors - brake pressure, steering position sensors, temperature sensors, and more - will help in years to come.
"All these sensors are giving us more testing data out of the car," Fang said. "[The data] can be used next year when we design the car."
Having access to data will ensure that the future members of the team will be able to better evaluate their own creation and also what it can do. For the electric drivetrain (eTrain) team, the success of the SelfStarter means that he can continue working on the eCar.
Building a two cars is an expensive undertaking. During Team 24, the team successfully raised $7,335 via crowd-funding platform Microryza, now called Experiment.com, to purchase the eCar’s motor and controller. This year, the team is planning on raising funds for more than just one aspect of the car.
While most of the components purchased with donated funds will still end up being electrical parts, due to the lack of product sponsorship for these expensive pieces, some will also be spent purchasing other car parts as well. The team requires cash for 2 electric motors with individual inverters and controllers for both, aluminum honeycomb for the chassis, tires, computer parts, engine upgrades and internals, brake calipers, and much more.
“Without these electronic items, the eCar doesn’t exist at all,” said Jon Anderson, PR team lead. “But brakes are important, too. Without [these] we can’t compete.”
In order to donate to our new crowdfunding site, all donors have to do is click the “Donate” tab on our website, or follow this link. This will redirect you to the Selfstarter donations page, where you can donate through your Amazon Marketplace account the same way you would purchase a book on Amazon.
With manufacturing in full swing, The Daily's Double Shot created a video profile about the team, inlcuding interviews in the pit with team members. This is part one, whereas Part 2 will be created during spring quarter.
Thanks to Simon Fox for the nice work!
Why Aerodynamics and Drag Reduction Systems?
Get a car going fast enough and the question comes into mind about how the vehicle will retain grip on the road. The answer to this issue lies in the aerodynamics of a car and the various packages that can come with it.
The general term for that is Aerodynamics which is the study of the movement of air and the interaction of air with objects – whether it’s cars, planes, or wind-turbines. On the team aerodynamics is referred to as ‘Aero’, which can be the sub-team or the study of the way the car moves through the air.
First used in the automotive field in the 1920’s by Edmund Rumpler with a ‘teardrop shape’ for the general public and used in motorsports shortly after, with the big progresses coming in the post-war era 50’s and 60’s and widespread use beginning in the 1970’s.
For the UW Formula Motorsports team, Aerodynamics is more than just a study of the air, it’s an integral part of completing the car and having it compete on an international level.
“The judges liked it and a lot of teams expressed admiration for the design. I suspect we will see a lot of teams with DRS [Drag Reduction System]...this year,” says Aerodynamics team lead, David Larson.
The aerodynamic qualities of the chassis will impact the fuel efficiency, handling, and acceleration of the car, not to mention that within the aerodynamics team, there is the drag reduction system that has the added pressure of…adding pressure.
The principle in a car's aero package is the opposite of an airplane – whereas airplanes use aerodynamics to force air over the wings, decreasing pressure on top and creating lift, the wing on a car forces air under itself causing a low pressure area underneath and creating what is called ‘downforce’. Downforce keeps your wheels in contact with the ground – those funky wings on faster cars provide this much needed downforce at higher speeds.
The more downforce a car has, the better grip (which can be beneficial in both top speed and in cornering) but also has an impact on fuel efficiency. The more downforce, the more energy is required to start movement or to propel it faster.
While our car does not go very fast and doesn’t require as much energy, the bigger brethren to our open wheeled car require tons of energy in order to propel them at the high speeds they obtain (higher speeds, bigger wings, bigger engines…).
In order to ensure that our Aerodynamics package is efficient, we use computer modeling and simulations, wind tunnel testing, and plenty of equations.
What makes the UW’s Aero and DRS unique?
Aerodynamics has been a part of the team for years, but it was the introduction of a dynamic drag reduction system that really propelled the team into higher rankings than in previous years. The package that we unveiled last year still needs to be improved upon, but what designs don’t.
We started a few years back with a static drag reduction system. Last year, we unveiled an automated drag reduction system.
Our dynamic drag reduction system encompasses the upper rear wing flaps, endplates, pneumatic piston, and computer system that tells the wings how to change during certain driving conditions.
This year, we will be improving upon our designs from the experiences we have had and the feedback from our peers and judges.
Very few teams have successfully implemented DRS, Larson explains to me. “We have.”
Unveiling - May 1st
FSAE Lincoln - June 18th - 21st
FS Germany - July 29th - August 3rd