UC students aim to win with aerodynamic car design

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SAFETY CHECK: UC team member Dave Newell goes through the necessary checks on last year’s car before driving practice starts.
Photo: Olivia Bascand.

A team of University of Canterbury students have set their sights on earning “street cred” with a built-from-scratch car they are constructing for an international design competition.

The group of 25, including engineering, commerce, law and physics students, aim to be in the top three teams in this year’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers Australasia design competition.

Head of Mechanical Engineering, Milo Kral, said last year’s first UC team created a reliable, competitive car for the event and was awarded the Most Inspired Engineering trophy.

Team principal and mechanical doctoral student Tim White said this year the team was more ambitious and hoped to win the endurance event with the car’s reduced weight and new aerodynamics.

The use of exotic materials and a single cylinder turbo-charged motor-cross engine would make the car lighter and faster. The new materials were costly.

White said there was a 30 to 40 per cent increase in financial costs from last year.

“The funds come from sponsorship, fundraising and the College of Engineering,” White said.

Last week, six engineering students were selected through a driver training process to race the car against about 30 other student teams in Melbourne in December.

White said the drivers were chosen based on their speed, control and contribution to the making of the car, which is “built 90 per cent from scratch”.

Team member Adam Waterhouse said he averaged 50 hours a week working on the design and build of the car.

Waterhouse said he had learnt a lot about time management and just “getting onto doing the practical stuff, rather than just talking about it”.

White said the project was “incredibly demanding and we tend to find we get the most committed engineers involved with it”.

_Olivia Bascand for The Mail

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SPEED TRIAL: Brook Mitchell is all concentration on his test drive in a race car built by University of Canterbury engineering students.