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Top Engineering Students Build Earth-Friendly Cars at Formula Hybrid

Apr 23, 2019   |   Formula Hybrid

DFR Autocross
2018 Hybrid category champs: Dartmouth Formula Racing (DFR). See more 2018 photos.

Hundreds of the world’s top engineering students are expected to arrive at Dartmouth’s one-of-a-kind Formula Hybrid competition when it starts April 29th, ready to put to the test the earth-friendly hybrid and electric vehicles they designed and built over the last 10 months.

This year’s 20 teams hail from Canada, India and across the U.S. Their vehicles will need to pass numerous technical and safety inspections in order to make it on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway track where the event will be held through May 2nd.

Many top engineering students engage in this technical competition because they want to collaborate with a team to build something highly complex and important not only to them but to the future of the world.

“Participating in Formula Hybrid specifically is like a vote for a more sustainable future,” says Annika Garbers, the chief mechanical engineer for the all-female Rochester Institute of Technology team Hot Wheelz. “When we design our car to perform well with sustainability in mind, it’s 1) educating the next generation of engineers to be prepared to work on hybrid and electric technology in the automotive industry, and 2) proving that electric and hybrid vehicles can perform as well as and better than traditional IC [internal combustion] cars.”

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. At Formula Hybrid, they also have to optimize energy efficiency and incorporate sustainable materials when building their vehicles.

“We are the only hybrid competition of its kind,” said Douglas Fraser, founder of Formula Hybrid and senior research engineer and laboratory instructor at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, which runs the event. “There are competitions that look a lot like ours, but those vehicles are gasoline powered or powered entirely by electric. We are the only competition that combines the two, with gasoline engine on one side and electric power on the other. Blending the output can be done any number of ways. Students have to work together and decide which system gets to do what. It’s pretty tricky.”

As a result, Formula Hybrid 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.

For outside spectators, Wed. May 1 is the “most fun-filled” day to visit, according to Jessica Kinzie, the competition’s coordinating manager. The autocross and acceleration events run from 10:00am to 3:30pm. It’s also Formula Hybrid School Day for middle and high school students who enjoy guided tours with volunteers from the SCCA New England Region and other knowledgeable experts. For more information and a complete schedule, please visit the competition website.

Check out some highlights from 2018:

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