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Top Engineering Students Compete to Build the Best Hybrid and Electric Cars at Dartmouth Competition
Apr 24, 2017
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 May 1, ready to put to the test the hybrid and electric vehicles they designed and built over the last 10 months.
This year’s 19 teams hail from the U.S., Canada and India. Their 12 hybrid and nine electric 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 4.
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. But that’s where the similarity ends.
“We are the only hybrid competition of its kind,” said Douglas Fraser, director of Formula Hybrid and senior research engineer and laboratory instructor at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, which founded and runs the event. “There are competitions that look a lot like ours, but those vehicles are only 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.”
“The students who come out of this specific competition have some skills that put them above and beyond other students.” — Alba Lynnette Colón, General Motors’ Lead Talent Scout
As a result, Formula Hybrid is the only competition that requires the full cooperation of mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and computer scientists in the planning and building of their cars.
Formula Hybrid teams must also optimize energy efficiency and incorporate sustainable materials when building their vehicles.
“Student teams commit thousands of hours developing a vehicle that must adhere to strict safety and other rules,” said Raina White, advisor to the Dartmouth Formula Racing team. “Even during the competition, sometimes team members have to respond to feedback from the inspections and make adjustments on the fly.”
Formula Hybrid gives them a platform to showcase their knowledge, skills and ability to work as a team — under pressure.
Watching the students closely will be recruiters from major automotive companies and suppliers who sponsor the event in hopes of hiring some of the best and brightest.
“The students who come out of this specific competition have some skills that put them above and beyond other students,” said Alba Lynnette Colón, General Motors’ Lead Talent Scout for the SAE International competitions. She will attend the event with nine colleagues, including several who themselves competed at Formula Hybrid before joining GM. “When you build a Formula Hybrid car, you have the opportunity to put to work all the theory, all the skills you’ve been learning at school, all the technical skills, plus you acquire other skills like how to manage a team, how to manage a budget, how to work under pressure, and how to work with a deadline.”
For other spectators, Wed. May 3 is the “most fun-filled” day to visit, according to Crystal Murphy, 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 SAE New England Section and other knowledgeable experts. Go to the competition website for more information.
About Formula Hybrid
Like Formula SAE®, students compete in aspects of design, acceleration, handling, and endurance of their vehicle and abide by a list of rules that minimize risk while preserving the students' freedom to innovate. Formula Hybrid teams, however, are faced with the additional challenge of optimizing both energy efficiency and sustainability of materials used in their cars providing students with a uniquely challenging experiential learning opportunity.
Competition sponsors include SAE International, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sports Car Club of America, LG Chem Power, Harman Inspired, BAE Systems, Synchronoss, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Toyota. See full list of sponsors.
About Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth
Celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth prepares leaders for a technology-driven world while solving pressing, real-world problems through research and entrepreneurship. Consistently ranked among the top colleges and universities for its commitment to teaching, Dartmouth is the first national research university to graduate a majority-female class of undergraduate engineers.