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Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Competition: Going Electric at Formula Hybrid

Dartmouth Formula Racing (DFR) took a new approach for the seventh annual Thayer-hosted Formula Hybrid Competition: building an all-electric racecar.

“We completely rebuilt last year’s car so that it could hold the battery and house all of the necessary electric components. This involved re-welding the frame, building an electric motor, and optimizing all of the car’s systems for electric operation,” says DFR captain Darren Reis Th’13. “Going all-electric was quite the engineering challenge.”

Chris Bilger drives Dartmouth Formula Racing's first all-electric car
ALL CHARGED UP: Chris Bilger ’11 Th’13 drives Dartmouth Formula Racing’s first all-electric car. The DFR team raced its way to three awards in this year’s Formula Hybrid competition. Photograph by Harvest Moon Design.

But challenge is what Formula Hybrid is all about. “It’s the most difficult and most challenging of all the SAE Collegiate Design Series competitions,” says organizer Douglas Fraser.

Since Formula Hybrid, held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., in early May, requires students to collaborate across mechanical and electrical engineering disciplines, corporate sponsors Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors view the competition as a unique recruitment opportunity. “I was on Drexel University’s team last year,” says GM’s Nathalie Capati. “From it, I got recruited into the field of hybrid-electric vehicles.” Serving as a technical inspector at this year’s competition, Capati looked for the latest talents. “Seeing the teams working together is enough for me to recruit them. At Formula Hybrid I can see them in their real form,” she says.

This year’s 11 teams experienced a new competitive twist: The 22-km endurance event took place on the speedway’s sports car road course instead of its oval track. With two climbs per lap, the course favored cars with effective regenerative braking.

DFR’s all-electric vehicle scored well. The team took first place in the all-electric category, won the IEEE Excellence in Engineering Award, and earned a Ford Efficiency Award.

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—Wesley Whitaker

For more photos, visit our Dartmouth Formula Racing collection on Flickr.

Categories: The Great Hall, Competition

Tags: formula hybrid, projects, race cars, students

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