Momentum - March 2019 - 12


Driver Michael Ilavia pilots the Girth Stallion in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Driver Chris Fleming brings the car in for an inspection on its
inaugural drive.

12 March 2019

over 700 miles of testing before heading to Lincoln to compete. We
knew we had to get the car out to the test facility early and often.
To obtain the required testing time, the team decided it was essential
to begin driving the car around spring break in mid-March. The 2017
team was able to complete their first drive around Valentine's Day and
commenced serious testing in mid-March. Their timeline was extremely
aggressive for our team, considering we first met in late August and
Hurricane Harvey delayed us by a week-effectively pushing our start
date to early September. With these set-backs, it was no surprise that
the 2018 car was not ready until late March and heavy testing was not
underway until April.
Achieving this desired timeline was no small feat and required
extensive planning by our team's leadership group. Unfortunately,
our understanding of the design and manufacturing process was very
limited at this point in our careers. To give ourselves the best shot
possible at hitting our desired timeline (and burning through as many
sets of tires as possible), the team decided to limit our design phase to
an uncomfortably short period. We froze designs in late November/early
December, essentially giving us only three months to design.
At first glance, one might believe a longer design phase to be more
beneficial to our reliability goals. After all, there is no arguing that a
more thoroughly designed system would be expected to function better
and tend to be more reliable than one designed in haste. However, our
specific situation simply did not align with this school of thought. We
could only take educated guesses at our loading cases for suspension
design, our aerodynamic loading numbers were merely estimates, and
the cornering and braking performance were pure speculation. Knowing
the scope of these limitations, we decided that a few extra weeks of
design would not help us nearly as much as the few hundred extra miles
of testing those weeks would yield. In the end, we were grateful for
the extra track time, as we found major mechanical issues in the weeks
leading up to competition and finished an engine-out repair in the
garage near our hotel in Lincoln the night before competition began.
Looking back on this experience, UV was right-the course was
not about building a racecar. Although I did not believe it at the time,
the things we learned extended beyond the world of racing and
automobiles. In fact, a majority of what I learned personally had nothing
to do with building cars. The racecar aspect of our program was merely
a tool to teach engineering students the fundamentals behind applying
their education to any engineering problem. Some of the most valuable
lessons taught by this project were of learning to trust our own instincts
and to respect ourselves as engineers, but also knowing when to seek
out help. We also learned about project management. We learned that
it is often important to seek out and incorporate alternate approaches
to avoid focusing on what may appear to be the correct approach. All
of the team members, at some point during the project, made difficult
engineering decisions that impacted the final car: a car that brought
home 1st in Endurance, 2nd in Autocross, and 1st Overall.
Spencer Weaver, project manager for the 2018 Formula SAE team at Texas
A&M University, wrote this article for MOMENTUM. He graduated with a
bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and is working as an engine
performance and valvetrain analyst for General Motors in Michigan.



Momentum - March 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Momentum - March 2019

Momentum - March 2019
Making the connection
Engineering design process crucial for success
A new perspective on airplane design
Focus on testing fuels win
Midnight Mayhem: Racing in the dark
2020 Supra: Toyota’s Japanese spin on German engineering
Over-the-air affair
SAE 101: March 15 is deadline for SAE scholarships
DOSSIER: Nicolas Parent of Lion Electric Co.
Advertise your interests
Take it from the experts
Momentum - March 2019 - Momentum - March 2019
Momentum - March 2019 - Cover2
Momentum - March 2019 - Contents
Momentum - March 2019 - Making the connection
Momentum - March 2019 - Briefs
Momentum - March 2019 - Engineering design process crucial for success
Momentum - March 2019 - 5
Momentum - March 2019 - 6
Momentum - March 2019 - A new perspective on airplane design
Momentum - March 2019 - 8
Momentum - March 2019 - 9
Momentum - March 2019 - Focus on testing fuels win
Momentum - March 2019 - 11
Momentum - March 2019 - 12
Momentum - March 2019 - Midnight Mayhem: Racing in the dark
Momentum - March 2019 - 2020 Supra: Toyota’s Japanese spin on German engineering
Momentum - March 2019 - Over-the-air affair
Momentum - March 2019 - SAE 101: March 15 is deadline for SAE scholarships
Momentum - March 2019 - 17
Momentum - March 2019 - DOSSIER: Nicolas Parent of Lion Electric Co.
Momentum - March 2019 - 19
Momentum - March 2019 - Take it from the experts
Momentum - March 2019 - Cover3
Momentum - March 2019 - Cover4