Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth will host the third-annual Formula Hybrid International Competition - a collegiate engineering contest that embraces clean technologies and design in automotive racing. Thirty teams representing 5 countries will convene at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. on Monday, May 4 through Wednesday, May 6 to see who has designed the best high performance hybrid-powered formula-style racecar.
The competition challenges engineering students to design and fabricate a fully functional racecar and overcome real-world constraints of technical knowledge, human resources, and funding.
"The students at Thayer School take real-world challenges like energy-efficiency seriously," says Dean of the Thayer School Joseph Helble. "Formula Hybrid provides the perfect challenge, a test of their engineering skills, an opportunity to work on an important problem, and a chance to compete against their peers. It's always inspiring to see what engineering students can do when given the opportunity to innovate and work together."
Much like college athletes training for championships, collegiate formula racing teams spend the season honing their engineering acumen for the three-day-long competition. Professional engineers from the automotive and motorsport industries score teams in two major categories: students' proficiency in engineering design and their car's track performance. Trophies will be awarded for first through third place overall, and additional recognition given for several individual categories including design, presentation, endurance, and acceleration.
The event is modeled on the popular Formula-SAE competition in which colleges and universities across the globe have participated for the last twenty years. Formula Hybrid, however, inspires budding engineers to think green by introducing elements of high power electronics, hybrid drivetrain design, and restrictions on fuel efficiency.
"One of the biggest excitements of the program is bringing together electrical and mechanical engineers," says Wynne Washburn, co-organizer of the competition. "It's great to see two groups of people who study fundamentally different fields work together towards a common goal. The cross-disciplinary learning is invaluable."
While many research institutions have been involved with energy technologies for some time, the collaboration between academia and industry is gaining momentum with events such as Formula Hybrid. Even professional racing leagues, such as Formula One, have begun experimenting with energy-saving technologies.
Make McDermott, advisor to Texas A&M's Formula Hybrid team comments, "The whole world is looking for alternative sources of fuel. The timing of Formula Hybrid couldn't have been better."
"Events like Formula Hybrid really showcase our students' approach to problem solving," says John Collier, the advisor to Thayer School's team and the Myron Tribus Professor of Engineering Innovation. "They have built an entirely new car from scratch, from the chassis to the powertrain. They have demonstrated the power of teamwork and have produced an impressive car this year."
Competition sponsors include: the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE); Plug In America; New England Region SCCA; General Motors; Toyota; and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth is one of the country's oldest professional schools of engineering. Engineering classes are taught in the context of a liberal arts education to provide the best preparation for solving the world's problems. The School operates with a single unified Department of Engineering Sciences offering both undergraduate and graduate programs. World-class teaching and research is advancing innovation in three focus areas: engineering in medicine; energy technologies; and complex systems. These areas crosscut traditional engineering disciplines and address critical human needs.