Cal Poly Pomona Formula SAE is a student-run team competing in Formula SAE.
To reach the winning positions in thedesign and development categories as well as in the actual races, the teams are always looking to apply new materials and technologies to further improve their race cars. But new materials such as composites also create new requirements and thus new design and development challenges. With the ultimate goal in mind to profit from all the advantages each material offers, i. e. regarding the material’s lightweight design or stiffness potential, each material must be designed individually.
Engineers working in the industry are increasingly being required to work collaboratively and in
multi-disciplinary design teams. Why is a similar trend not visible in engineering education?
In order to address this issue, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) took the lead in
collaborating with five U.S. universities to develop a senior-level capstone design course that would
give engineering students collaborative design experience using state-of-the-art computational tools.
The multi-disciplinary course was completed over two semesters. Students, under the direction of
university professors and industrial mentors, completed a fixed-wing aircraft design
Carbon Composite Unibody Construction
The top solar car teams build the car’s body entirely from composites, with the chassis bonded to the lower surface. The car is constructed in two major pieces: the upper surface that houses the solar cells and the lower surface that contains the chassis and driver compartment. Both are made entirely of a carbon fiber-honeycomb core sandwich, which has an extremely high stiffness-to-weight ratio.
The cockpit of the bloodhound land speed record attempt car houses a bespoke driver’s seat. The seat is of composite sandwich construction comprising carbon composite facing skins with two types of core, aluminium honeycomb and foam. The internal profile is moulded to the drivers shape with provision made for the drivers hand operation of the levers, this is the reason for the large cutaway sections either side. Optistruct is used to structurally optimise the carbon-fibre laminate. Seat strength loadcases set by the worldwide motorsport governing body, the FIA, are used as a basis for this study but for this particular application as guideline only.
In 2011 the KA-RaceIng team’s major goal was to improve the maintainability of its racing car. To get a better access to the engine and the suspensions, the concept of a hybrid vehicle frame was chosen. The team aimed to combine a tubular steel frame in the rear of the car with a CFK monocoque, thus replacing a pure CFK monocoque solution, which was used in the previous racing season. Since the steel of the tubular frame brings in additional weight, the challenge was to keep the overall weight on the same level while taking advantage of the combined solution in terms of maintainability during the race and low production costs.
Formula SAE is a competition between university student teams, organized by the Society of
Automotive Engineers. Each student team has to design, build, test, and promote a prototype,
which is then evaluated in eight types of tests, ranging from pure performance and design
to advertising and presenting the vehicle. The worldwide competition takes place during
nine official events in four continents. All official events are subject to a single technical and
sporting regulation. The basic idea of the Formula SAE is that a fictional company engages
the team to realize a prototype with characteristics in accordance with the regulation, which
occupies the market segment dedicated to the non-professional races autocross.
One of the competing teams is SquadraCorse, the student team from the Politecnico di Torino,
Italy. In the development of their cars the team applies Altair‘s HyperWorks suite, in particular
HyperMesh for model creation as well as OptiStruct, the finite element solver and optimization
tool of the suite, which helps them to create better and lighter components.