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Dartmouth's Formula Hybrid+Electric Competition Brings Teams Together to Learn and Compete

Apr 26, 2023   |   by Catha Mayor

Formula Hybrid+Electric (FH+E)—founded and run by Dartmouth—is bringing top engineering student teams back to New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) for their 17th annual competition on May 1–4.

Last year, Carnegie Mellon Racing won first place overall in the electric vehicle category, and also took home the "Engineering the Future Award" as well as the "Excellence in Project Management Award," both presented by IEEE. (Photo by Bill Gordon)

This year, 21 teams representing 350 undergraduate and graduate engineering students from across the US and Canada are registered to compete with the hybrid and electric high-performance race cars they designed and built over the last ten months.

Each vehicle will need to pass numerous technical and safety inspections in order to make it onto the track at NHMS, also known as "The Magic Mile." But the competition is designed for every team—including those that don't make it onto the track—to gain valuable skills around problem-solving and teamwork.

"Working on a first-year team of all women I learned not to hold back any 'stupid questions' and understand that we are all working together towards a common goal," said Kendra Bogren-Brock, an alum of the RIT Hot Wheelz team who is now Senior R&D FPGA Engineer at Evident Scientific and a head design judge at this year's competition. "This is also true in a professional setting and has allowed me to approach problems in my career as opportunities to learn."

Many top engineering students engage in this competition because they want to collaborate with a team to build something highly complex and important not only to them but also to the world. They also get the chance to be scouted for a job by top car manufacturers and high-tech companies from across the country, including Toyota (the official car and truck of NHMS), Allegro MicroSystems, Tesla, BAE Systems, AVL, ePropelled, and Vicor.

"The impact that FH+E has on the students, many who come back to volunteer at the competition, is confirmed when we hear things like, 'FH+E enabled me to land a job after college ... FH+E helped me expand my network so I could get my foot in the door ... Looking back at my college experiences, FH+E made the most significant impact on my career.' Every year, we look forward to seeing where the students land and hearing the different success stories."

Michael Chapman, FH+E Director

Last year, FH+E got back on track following two years of virtual competition. (Video by Rusty Spydell)

Similar to the Formula SAE® competition, students compete in aspects of design, acceleration, handling and endurance of their vehicle while abiding by rules that minimize risk and preserve students' freedom to innovate. FH+E teams, however, are faced with the additional challenge of optimizing both energy efficiency and sustainability of materials used in their cars. As a result, FH+E is the only competition that requires a unique collaboration between mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and computer scientists in the planning and building of their cars.

"Formula Hybrid" became "Formula Hybrid+Electric" in 2020 to better reflect that although it started as a hybrid-only event, there have been both hybrid and electric-only competition classes since 2012.

For spectators, Wednesday, May 3 is the "most fun-filled" day to visit. The autocross and acceleration events run from 10:00am–3:30pm, and it's also FH+E School Visit Day when approximately 300 middle and high school students will enjoy expert-guided tours and talks with the teams. 

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