PODCAST 130: Formula Hybrid Founder Doug Fraser Previews 2015 Competition
March 30, 2015 Leave a comment
Engineering students across the country are losing sleep and slacking on their other subjects. So says the founder of Formula Hybrid, Doug Fraser, who came on the Podcast to talk about preparations for this year’s competition. PODCAST Listen Here
Formula Hybrid takes place April 27 – 30, 2015 at the new Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Founded and run by the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth University since 2006, the competition is part of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Collegiate Design Series and is regarded as the most complex and dynamic of the series.
According to the website, Formula Hybrid is an interdisciplinary design and engineering challenge for undergraduate and graduate university students. They must collaboratively design and build a formula-style electric or plug-in hybrid racecar and compete in a series of events. The educational competition emphasizes drivetrain innovation and fuel efficiency in a high-performance application.
A long-time professor at the Thayer School of Engineering, Fraser says he started Formula Hybrid in 2006 when his team discovered the Formula SAE competition would not be allowing hybrids. Now there are over 20 teams entered, although it sounds like a couple teams have withdrawn even before reaching the racetrack. Fraser says the competition can be so challenging, students are overwhelmed and often have to stay up late and ignore other subjects in order to finish their racecars.
“We’re talking mechanical systems plugging into electrical systems, and then we’re talking about blending these systems. So it takes some real skill and students with a lot of different backgrounds to pull it all together… They start to develop a healthy respect.”
Fraser grew up building racing vehicles, owned his own engine shop and still enjoys racing his vintage 1966 Jaguar E-type. He particularly enjoys watching how students manage the endurance portion of the competition traveling 44 kilometers on a fixed amount of energy.
“Every team starts the endurance event with exactly the same amount of energy onboard the vehicle, 35.5 megajoules … so if the team did absolutely everything right, they run out of fuel going over the finish line. And we’ve had that happen.”
Thanks to Amy Keeler for arranging the interview with Doug. Amy is the Managing Coordinator for the competition and talked about a new event in the competition involving Project Management. She says Formula Hybrid is adding more mentors from the auto industry to provide students with one-on-one training.
Competing in Formula Hybrid seems to be a great career path for students who participate, and we thank the organizers for coming on the program. Follow the upcoming competition at the Formula Hybrid Website.