Team Swinburne is hoping a radical design change to its electric race car will give it the edge in this year’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers - Australasia competition, which is being held for the first time at Calder Park raceway.
The team, from Swinburne University of Technology, unveiled its latest electric race car last month revealing a smaller and slicker design to the 2013 model. They did away with the rear wings and shaved more than 100 kilograms off the weight of the car.
Team leader, Ryan Bilalis, said the objective this year was to produce a powerful, reliable and lightweight car.
“We set out at the start of the year for a 30 per cent weight drop and we’ve done that,” Ryan said.
“A really good effort from our Chief Engineer, Andrew Johnstone, with strict management of every part going on the car, how it affected the car and what we could do to make sure it was as light as possible while still maintaining strength.
“Making sure you hit that weight goal is crucial to making sure you have enough battery power out on the track, and if we get a reliable car it will be very competitive.”
This year the team was also able to do testing under real race conditions at the Bendigo Kart Club track in central Victoria.
The testing session gave the team time to make necessary adjustments ahead of the FSAE event being held from 11-14 December.
“It is absolutely crucial to be able to test on a race track,” Ryan said.
“The competition is about high speed cornering and that’s what we could test at Bendigo. It gave us the chance to test the car to its’ limit and see what it was capable of doing.”
Team members worked on the car throughout the year while studying full-time and also holding down part-time jobs.
The FSAE program offers the university’s engineering and business students a final year project to design, build, market and race a formula race car, giving them the opportunity to gain practical experience and work together in a dedicated team effort.
Team Swinburne also includes students from a wide range of disciplines and year levels at Swinburne, with the objective of being able to benefit from the best-rounded team possible.
“The skills that you learn through this program are transportable to whatever business you get into,” Ryan said. “It is not pigeonholing you in the automotive industry.”
Team Swinburne is a three-time winner in the FSAE - Australasia competition in the electric division.