While Melbourne celebrated the start of the world Formula One racing season at the weekend, RMIT’s electric and petrol racing teams were showcasing their student-built and designed FSAE cars.
The teams shared the journey from initial design, to building, testing and taking their cars to race against the world’s best, with visitors to the Australian Grand Prix’s Industry and Innovation Precinct.
Formula SAE is a challenge for universities across the world to design, build and race an open-wheeled racing car in under a year.
Their vehicles are judged on dynamics, design justifications, costing strategies, business and presentation skills.
With more than 500 teams worldwide and 17 different races, the boundaries of innovation, technology and engineering are redefined constantly.
FSAE is considered to be a platform to careers in motorsports such as Formula One, Indy Car, NASCAR and V8 Supercars.
RMIT Racing team leader Adam Fin said the biggest challenge the students had was making sure they had a car designed, tested and ready to go in time for the competition.
“Last year, we had to have the car ready by October so that we could complete test runs and modifications, in the lead up to racing in December,” he said.
Each team is student-run and organised, which means all this work must be balanced with their studies.
“From a team perspective, being at the Australian Grand Prix is a good opportunity for us to showcase our car and the work we do,” Mr Fin said.
“Also, it is good to engage with industry professionals who are working in motorsport and RMIT alumni.
“For me personally, things like the Grand Prix are exciting as you can see the leap from what we work on as a student to seeing the progression into a professional career in motorsport, which is ultimately where I want to work.”
RMIT Electric Racing team leader Josh Gurtler said the University was the first in the world to develop a completely electric car for the student competition.
“We are currently the best Electric Formula SAE team in Australasia,” he said.
“The team designs and builds a new car every year, improving on the previous year.
“We compete against teams from universities across Australia and internationally.
The Electric Racing team ranges from first-year students willing to learn new skills, to final year students willing to pass on their knowledge.
“They are studying a variety of programs including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, business management, marketing, human resources, arts, photography, IT and more,” Mr Gurtler said.
“RMIT Electric is seeking to extend the competitiveness of electric vehicles to their IC rivals in the Australian competition and compete with the fastest EV's globally.”
Cementing its leadership in the field, RMIT’s Professor Simon Watkins was the organising chair of the recent Asia Pacific Automotive Engineering Conference in Melbourne with SAE.