CPISP Scholar Saeed Al-Rahma, an undergraduate at Duke University, USA majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science took part with his university’s motorsports team at the annual Formula SAE® competition at Michigan International Speedway.
He explains that The Formula SAE® Series are competitions that challenge teams of university undergraduate and graduate students to conceive, design, fabricate, and compete with a small formula-style competition vehicle.
“In this year’s competition, nearly 2,400 competitors from 120 universities and colleges from several nations competed in this event,” says Saeed, “with some teams backed and mentored by racing pros such as Redbull.”
“Our car ranked 37th overall, and we are very proud of our performance. Participating in this competition provided great opportunities to learn practical and applicable engineering skills. Working on this car was a great supplement for what I learned in class; and a great resource for everything else that I didn’t learn in class. In addition to developing engineering skills, there were many opportunities for prospective and current students to promote engineering and present our designs to potential sponsors on campus and off campus.”
“Our team spent a whole year working on the car from scratch before taking it to competition in May. We started designing the car at the beginning of the summer and began building it immediately after coming back to school. We dedicated the second half of the spring semester to driving the car for testing, tuning, and driver training.”
“Over the course of four days at competition, the cars were judged in a series of static and dynamic events including: technical inspection, cost, presentation, engineering design, solo performance trials, and high performance track endurance.”
“I was in charge of the electrical and electronic sub-system of the car. I designed and built the wiring harness for the car, in addition to designing and programming sensors to collect data for car operation, tuning and verification.”
“We were faced with many challenges at different stages of our production of the car. We had to manage our time and work on the car during our holidays and exam periods. We had to plan our progress very carefully because every subsystem of the car relied on most, if not all, other subsystems of the car. Most importantly, this is not a perfect environment with one correct answer so we had to carefully study the tradeoffs of every choice and make critical decisions.”
“Overall, it was a great experience, and we are confident we will do better next year after optimizing our current design.”