7 Nov 2014

Race Ready

From New Zealand Society, 2:20 pm on 7 November 2014

The Team Principal Tim White
Team Principal Tim White.

From swotting to the speedway. Katy Gosset meets the Canterbury University students who have built a race car.

It sucks up every available minute, his girlfriend's not entirely happy about the time it consumes and he still has a phD to finish. But Tim White says he's like a "moth to the flame" when it comes to working on the University of Canterbury's racing car.

This is the second year that mechanical engineering students have designed and built a race car for the Formula SAE, an international competition for university students.

Tim White says while he was something of a "dogsbody" last year, this time he's overseeing the whole project, which has involved more than 40 students.

Emily Dinsdale has been involved in the car's aerodynamics, designing the wings and undertray. She says it was learning to fly that put her on this path.

Emily Dinsdale worked on the car s aerodynamics designing the wings and under tray
Emily Dinsdale worked on the car’s aerodynamics, designing the wings and under tray.

"That was amazing and it’s kind of the reason I took mechanical engineering. And this is the best project for working in that kind of vein."

The project's technical director, Dino Kudrass, has already spent 400 hours designing and welding the chassis. But he's both excited and nervous about racing the car at next month's competition in Melbourne. "That’s part of the appeal of the whole thing, being nervous – you get the jivvers [sic] before you go out but it’s cool though."

Technical director Dino Kudrass
The project’s technical director, Dino Kudrass, designed and built the chassis.

Tim White says, at the start of last year's race, he expected to feel nervous. "The whole team's worked for a whole year trying to prepare this car and it kind of rests on your shoulders of not stuffing it up."

But he says ultimately the team was so well-prepared that he felt at-ease. "It was this funny combination of excitement and feeling prepared and it was a great feeling so looking forward to it again."

Tim White says the team wants to win the endurance event and place in the top three overall. "It's a huge thing for any team to claim that they want to do and particularly for a second year team, that's really ambitious but we don't see any reason why we can't do that."

The popularity of the project has also pulled in students from other departments. Electrical engineering undergraduate, Dave Newell, wanted in on it so offered to help create a data acquisition package for the car. He says his team can monitor steering angle, brake pressure and throttle position and this helps with driver training.

Electrical Engineering student Dave Newell working on the data acquisition package
Electrical Engineering student Dave Newell working on the data acquisition package.

He believes it’s been a worthwhile final year project. "Other teams got to work on some interesting projects but I got to build a race car, so, you know, that was really cool."

Tim White thinks the car build is a great way for students to get real, practical experience before they go into the industry.

"It's the best thing going at uni, no doubt."


Adam Waterhouse left and Daniel Pugh were the powertrain team tuning the engine
Adam Waterhouse (left) and Daniel Pugh were the powertrain team, tuning the engine.

Music Details

Artist: Songs for Teaching
Song: "Dem Bones" aka "Dem Dry Bones"
Composer:  James Weldon Johnson or possibly, J Rosomond Johnson.
Album: From Songs for Teaching (Free Download)
Label: http://www.songsforteaching.com/freedownloads/12/1012dembones.htm