As an undergraduate student I spent countless hours in the shop every year working on a Formula SAE car. This was truly one of the best experiences I could ask for as an undergraduate student. While the courses I was talking were important and insightful it was always nice to be able to use these skills to work on something important to me.Being on the Formula SAE team was more than wrenching on a car, throwing socks around, and welding pieces of metal together.
It was about learning how to properly design components, make decisions based off of quantitative and logical ideas, collaborate closely with others, budget your time, and give you practice hands on skills related to motorsports and the automotive fields.
Joined the team and pent time gaining and improving my fabrication skills, learning how the team operates, and motorsports in general. I spent most of my time working with the seniors of the team gaining experience from them and gaining as much motorsports knowledge as is possible.
I became the leader of the drivetrain system. By being the drivetrain lead I was in charge of sourcing components to construct the drivetrain from (differential, axils, etc.) and designing components to house and attach these components to the car.
I became the vice president of the team and suspension lead. By being the suspension lead I was in charge of choosing the tires, designing the suspension, and analyzing the vehicle dynamics. As the vice president I was in charge of assisting the president with the behind the scenes non-technical work, helping keep the team meetings on track, and helping keep the fabrication of the formula car on track.
I was president of the team and continued with my position as the suspension lead. Again, as the suspension lead I was in charge of the suspension system, everything from designing the kinematics of the suspension to analyzing the stresses through components to manufacturing the control arms.
As the suspension lead one of the large portions of my work was taking raw tire data and creating tire models in order to decide which tire was the best for our application and how to best set up the suspension. In order to create the tire models I used Optimum Kinematics program, Optimum Tire. This program allowed me to decide which tire model I would like to use along with the ability to attached certain parameters of the model along with performing its own parameter optimization to fit the raw tire data. The figures below show a couple of snapshots of the progression of the tire models. In the left figure the fit of the tire model to the raw tire data is shown. In the center figure the comparison of lateral characteristics of three different types of tires is shown. In the right figure the instantaneous camber stiffness of three different tires are shown, this figure can be used to further decide which tire is a better choice and one a tire is chosen how to set up the suspension.
One of the best parts of being the suspension team lead was designing the suspension. When designing a suspension there are numerous variables that have to be taken into account and be monitored throughout the entire suspension cycle. To add another level of complexity there are numerous ways to setup a suspension to achieve the target values for these numerous variables. Therefore, suspension design becomes a large optimization problem to figure out which setup achieves the desired characteristics and layout that is best for the car. The figure below shows the front and rear suspension designs that I had designed for Rose GPE’s 2015 Formula SAE car. The front suspension uses a pull rod suspension with double wishbone suspension and the rear suspension uses a push rod suspension, also, with double wishbone suspension.