Favourite blogs for Mohammad's blog

My favourites » WMG Behind the Scenes

February 20, 2014

Competition – Day 4 (Sunday 15th December)

And so the event we've all been waiting for... the final day of competition and a day to test the cars endurance round a track.

Warwick Racing have not completed an endurance event since being branded as 'Warwick Racing'. We've spent a lot of money and time making this international trip happen, and were just hoping for an endurance finish. One positive of the Australian competition is that there are two endurances - you only need to complete one of them to count, so we have two shots at completing all the events.

The running order of the day meant we were out first. Our first driver David Pearce went out, and we were looking good out on track. No stoppages in the first few laps, but we did have a total of 32 to complete in the first go.

Dave went off track. Hearts in mouths, he managed to pull it back onto track. We suffered a minor time penalty, but at least we were back on track and still in the race. Dave nursed the car home, finished his 16th lap, and it was time for the Chief Engineer, Oliver Adams to jump in the car.

Endurance finish

A quick driver change and restart later, Oli was flying round the track. The car was looking good and going strong, then it stalled. That familiar sinking feeling happened, but thankfully Oli was able to restart the engine and bring the car home.

We finished our first endurance in 4 years. Ecstatic was an understatement. The whole team were on Cloud 9. The pressure was off, we had finished all dynamic events and could go into the second Endurance knowing we could try and be more competitive.

Paul and Luke drove in the second endurance, finished it without too much difficulty (we did pick up a few more cones on the way though!!) and managed an overall faster time.

This was such an amazing way to end our trip - we finished not one but two endurances and thus all dynamic events at the competition (one of only 3 teams to do so!!).

Time to wind down and head home. What a way to end our trip to Australia.



February 04, 2014

Competition – Day 3 (Saturday 14th December)

Early start, gates at 7am, prepping to get to Brake test first thing.

I used this opportunity to have a welcome break from the boys and catch up on some much needed admin.

I was back in Werribee by 10am - we still were not starting reliably (if at all...) and I could tell it had been a painful few hours for the guys. The cause of this was identified as a Bosch cam sensor. This was the only sensor on the car we'd been unable to replace post FSUK 2013 because Bosch do not make them anymore.

The main sponsor present at the Australasian competition was Bosch - the guys present weren't the same as the guys we met at the Bosch test day, but they were just as friendly. They were helping us out with our problems and lo and behold... they had the sensor we needed in their 'vintage' display cabinet. I mean, what are the chances?!?!

My good friend Dave Cooper has always told me that racing is 50% luck and 50% hard work. We definitely maxed out on luck when finding this sensor. The Bosch guys let us use it for the rest of comp and - shock horror - the car was starting reliably!!!

A quick jog over to Brake test and we were ready to go. Having seen the 2012/2013 team attempt and fail the Brake test at FSUK 2013 for hours before passing, we were up against the clock to get to the Acceleration and Skidpan events before they closed at 12.30. It was 11am, and magically on our 3rd attempt, we passed Brake test! Just don't ask what the PSI was in our rear tyres...

A couple of Acceleration runs and a skidpan run later, we managed to record times for both events before they closed.

Time to prep for the afternoon event - Autocross.

Autocross went smoothly, the car was still reliably starting, and we were in much happier spirits than we had been just a few hours earlier. If Formula Student does anything, it messes with your emotions. Feet draggingly downtrodden to over the moon ecstatic in the space of 10 seconds (or however long it'll take to get the engine running...).

We were able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with Monash Motorsport, and watch their epic Autocross runs. Their car is so impressive, and you can't help but share their happiness at doing well throughout the competition.

We headed back to the cabin, had a brief late night trip to the beach for a bit of a fire show, and had another BBQ for dinner (this time it was kebabs).

Aus comp has 2 heats of Endurance, and we're first out in the morning, so we all got an early night to let the drivers rest for the busy day ahead. 22km in the scorching Victoria sun in a cosy racesuit was not looking likely to be a comfortable experience...


Competition – Day 2 (Friday 13th December)

Bright and early start of 5.30am to make sure we get to competition when the gates open at 7am.

The team did not appreciate the early wake up. Gotta get used to it as part of Formula Student life I'm afraid...

A breakfast BBQ with the Monash team (they sure do know how to eat...) and it was back to the pits for the Design and Cost event. We were the first team to arrive, and got set to presenting ourselves the best we could under the circumstances of limited time, resource and money.

A few of the Monash team helped us out with putting up logos and assembling our display stands. It was quickly becoming apparent that 6 people was not enough to run a smooth competition with, especially given the problems we'd suffered in the past few days.

The judges arrived and it was time for us to present 'our' design. Given that we inherited WR3 from the 2012/2013 team, none of us at competition had designed this car. The experience of completing the Design and Cost events was a great way for a few of our 2013/2014 team to gain some invaluable competition experience. We knew we were unlikely to place highly in these events, and the judges helped us in the learning of competition, and helped us identify some key features of WR3 that could be looked into further.

With Design and Cost over, it was time to look at the bane of every Formula Student teams life - Scruitineering. Courtney and I left the lads to handle it whilst we prepared for the Business event, due to start at 2pm. Time to suit up and practise, as we'd not looked at the presentation for a while...

Note to self for FSUK 2014 - allow 500% more time than you think you'll need to the static events. They are relatively easy points, but also easy to miss out through lackof preparation.

We suited up, learnt the presentation and went into the building where the judging was being held. Lucky (or unlucky) for us, we followed Monash's presentation. Once they'd finished, we were invited inside and presented as well as we could muster. Some tricky judges questions later and it was over in a flash. Results are to come out in a couple of days time...

Back to the boys and they've passed general scruit, following a few modifications, and now just have the Tilt, Noise and Brake tests to go.

We passed Tilt first time, and following some niggly starting issues, we passed Noise too. Following Noise, we have to kill the engine. Unfortunately, we were unable to get it started again to run Brake test today.

A few hours of figuring out what was wrong meant we had a plan of action to try and pass Brake first thing on Day 3. With the static events over, and 675 points up for grabs in the dynamics over the weekend, Brake was the only thing between us and racing.


February 03, 2014

Competition – Day 1 (Thursday 12th December)

First thoughts arriving at Werribee - Are we in the right place?

In comparison to Silverstone, the home of Formula Student in the UK, the site for Formula SAE-Australasia was not what I expected. There was no official race track, no pit lanes, no scruitineering bay, a limited number of sponsors and a quarter of the number of teams.

All cars were stationed in one large outhouse, which in many ways was a lot nicer than the set up at Silverstone. There was instantly a sense of community, and having 23 teams under one roof, rather than 100+ teams separated into groups of 6 in the pit lanes. It was also a lot more convenient - scruitineering was in the same location, so there was no 20 minute walk to scruit and back like we experienced at FSUK 2013.

Sleep deprived and set up, we left the pits at 5.30pm when they were locking up. (This is another massive difference to other competitions - at UK, the pits close at 11pm and in Germany, they never shut during comp). We went out for a joint team meal, with the whole Monash and Warwick teams assembling in the town of Werribee for a parmigiana. It tasted good.

We headed back to our new accommodation for an early night beofre the static events in the morning. We were starting with Design and Cost from 8am - 10am, followed by our Business presentation in the afternoon.

The cabins we had overlooking the beach were ideal, and a far cry from the muddy camping fields at Silverstone. Getting a real shower and sleeping in a bed during comp was not something I'd been able to experience before...


Competition Preparation (10/12/13–12/12/13)

Tuesday the 10th December.

The weather was sunnier today, but as soon as it hit 9am, I was off in search of an Aluminium bar to machine our new hubs out of.

Another observation about competing at a foreign competition, is just how helpless it can be when things go wrong. In the safety of the Midlands in the UK, we're never too far from a supplier. In Melbourne, not knowing the local area or any possible last minute suppliers put us at a massive disadvantage. The Monash team were helpful in recommending a few places, but it still was going to result in a hefty sum and a lot of driving to find the Aluminium bar we needed. Surprisingly, there wasn't any 6061 T6 160mm x 300mm round bar hanging around...

AUD$200 and a 30 mile round trip later, we had the Aluminium we needed. It was so heavy!!

I drove back to the guys working tirelessly at the workshop, gave them the bar and Hugh was able to get to work following the drawing we'd quickly mocked up for our hub replacements. Weight saving was no longer a concern - we just needed something to work for competition. Simplicity was key.

I left the guys to finish off a few pre-scruit checks on the car, and went in search of more competition necessities. Fire extinguishers, spray paint, fuel tank foam, nomex socks, the list was seemingly never ending. A lot of this we hadn't particularly thought about. I kept a record of every consumable we ended up needing, so that we can budget this for UK competition next year, and not be caught short!

The hubs were finished Wednesday afternoon! So many thanks to the guys at Monash, especially Hugh Venables who turned down our Ali bar. The rest of Wednesday was spent running around making sure everything was ready for competition. Due to the hub failure, the preparation I had planned for the static events flew out the window... Fortunately it meant I could get everything else in place ready for the drive to Werribee on Thursday, and the start of Formula SAE-A 2013. The lads didn't get to sleep on Wednesday before comp on Thursday, making sure the car was as ready as she'd ever be for scruit following a check from MMS.

Thursday morning came and quickly went as finishing touches were still being done before the hour long drive to Werribee. The car was running again, and we were in a much better place than 60 hours previously. Time to head to comp!


Monday 9th December (Part 3)

Time to go back to the Monash workshop, and fix this temporary glitch in our run up to Formula SAE-A. We called ahead to the guys at Monash Motorsport so they were aware of the situation, and we arrived back to a team of people inspecting the damaged hub and helping us find a way to replace the damaged part in time for competition.

On closer inspection, it was seen that the front right hub was on the verge of failure. Cracks were propagating in the same place as the left hub had failed, and it seems we had a lucky escape that they didn't fail at the same time. We disassembled the front and rears, and crack tested the rear hubs as we could see no visible signs of imminent failure.

The rears passed the crack test, so we only had two new hubs to make. Phew!

Along with a few of the Monash guys, new front hubs were designed, and Hugh Venables, one of the Monash University workshop technicians, agreed to help us machine new hubs the very next day. It was heart-warming to see our two teams working together so closely to solve a massive problem. If we hadn't been offered the kind support the Monash team gave us, our hopes of competing would have been over. It was a great reflection of just how strong our partnership is, and I can only hope we're able to extend the same kindness when they come to the UK in July 2014.

With new hubs designed, it was late into the night. A few of the team went home to get some much needed sleep, with the rest of us staying in the workshop late into the night to take this opportunity to spruce up WR3. With the corners off, we sanded down the tie rods and wishbones ready to be re-sprayed the following day.

Our Warwick Racing contingent really pulled together following this incident. Maybe we had been getting complacent having had no drastic faikures thus far, but it was clear there was still a long way to go til Thursday. Everyone got their head in the game in preparation for the inevitably stressful days ahead.

Home beckoned for the few of us that stayed behind. A couple of hours sleep and then it was time to head back to the workshop...


Monday 9th December (Part 2)

We arrived back at the workshop, and prepared the car for testing in the rain. A short trip to the local netball courts, and we were ready to go. The main purpose of this excursion was to get everyone driving before competition, and drive out a mock endurance court, helpfully set out by one of the Monash guys, Biv.

We were having some throttle issues as the recently replaced cable kept getting stuck, but this was sorted and it was time to get behind the wheel.

Driving WR3 felt great. I've not had much experience in the car, so it was good to drive a laid-out track and I definitely felt more comfortable in the car once I'd driven it around a couple of laps. I got out, and Biv took to the wheel to give us some feedback on the car. About 3 laps in, there was a spray of sparks and a wheel flew into a nearby field.

The car ground (quite literally) to a halt.

Worst case scenarios were running through my head, and our trip to Australia looked wasted, just 3 days before the start of competition. All the money spent in getting the team and a car to Melbourne, all the time invested in this excursion, seemed utterly pointless.

Thankfully, upon retrieving the wheel and inspecting the damage, it was identified that the front left hub had sheared where the wheel studs bolt through. I say fortunate, as it could have been a lot worse.

Time to re-design, source material, and find a way to make a new hub in 2 days.


December 31, 2013

Monday 9th December (Part 1)

DanaMonday 9th December was a rainy day.

After the beautiful weather we had had at the weekend, it was unfortunate for us to be subject to the typical British weather again, but it did give us the opportunity to test in the rain on the off-chance there'd be downpour at competition!

We started the day with a visit to Dana, a main sponsor of Monash Motorsport. They provide the team with financial and technical support, and we were shown around their facilities, by an Australian for a change! It was interesting to hear the employees there talk about the struggles the Australian engineering industry is going through, with the announcements of Ford and Holden factories closing. It definitely reminded me that there are real-world crises outside of my world of Formula Student, and made me thankful for the opportunities in industry available to graduates in the UK. We complain there aren't as many as there used to be, but they are amazing in comparison to the opportunities in Australia right now.

It also reminded me of the position that this exchange puts myself, the rest of Warwick Racing, and Monash Motorsport in - we're a rare percentage of engineering undergraduates gaining global experience in our fields, and it will definitely see us in greater stead when getting a job. Securing a job in industry or continuing with masters or doctorate studies doesn't only need a good degree from a good institution anymore!

With that humbling reminder, we headed back to the workshop to get the car ready for an afternoon/evening of testing.

It had been going so well...


December 24, 2013

Downtime 07/12

Mountain Drive Route

Given that we have travelled half-way around the world, we wanted to have some time out of the workshop to see a bit more of Australia.

In the run up to the trip, we planned for one day off in the run up to competition for the Warwick team with some of the Monash team if they could be spared. What to do with this free time was dependent on the ever predictable Melbourne weather. Now, having been in Melbourne for 6 days, and having been subject to typical British weather for 4 of those (torrential rain, high-speed winds etc.), it was great to see the skies heating up towards the 20s again.

So, rather than a day at the beach (Melbourne is too unpredictable for that kind of commitment) the Monash guys planned a 5 hour long mountain drive up and into the Victoria countryside, starting and ending at campus.

Those of us going on the drive from Warwick are all under the age of 25, so we were unable to hire cars any more powerful than what we have hired for the trip - a Toyota Corolla and Holden Cruze. This is probably one of the only times I've thought that being under 25 is a bad thing! Thankfully, the Monash guys had some pretty awesome cars (couple of classic BMWs, an MX-5 and a Datsun 2000) and were happy to have us as passengers :) the Holden did get a day out too though!

So, we left campus and headed for the hills. The weather was surprisingly mild compared to what we'd had, and we were set for a good day.

It felt good to finally see Australia outside of Monash University - it really is quite beautiful.

The roads were relatively empty, and we kept climbing to reach our lunchtime destination of Marysville, a town that was almost destroyed when the town was subject to a series of bushfires in 2009. On our way there, we passed what looked like a tree graveyard, and saw for what kind of damage bushfires can cause.

Mountain Drive

Upon arriving in Marysville, it was clear that the town was newly built following almost complete destruction a few years ago. We stopped at the bakery there for lunch, and the food was delicious. We enjoyed our pies and cakes in the glorious sunshine and headed back to the cars.

As we continued our drive, we had one final stop at a servofor a Golden Gaytime. This is a Monash Motorsport mountain drive tradition, and myself and the boys gladly joined them for one.

All in all, we had a great day out. The weather was great, the scenery was beautiful, and it was good for us to have some time to see what there is to do for fun around Melbourne.

But it was time to get back to the workshop, back to WR3, back to Formula Student.

Only 5 days til competition!


December 22, 2013

Marand 06/12

In the time we landed at Tullamarine up to launch night was a blur of hectic non-stop work. The only time we left the workshop was to test the car, or sleep. I think it was a bit of a shock to the system for all of us - realising we have a competition in less than 2 weeks, a competition that we individually have little or no experience in, kept us working hard to make sure we did the best we possibly could with the hope of completing all events.

Thankfully before we left the UK, some of the Monash team scheduled some time away from the workshop and the cars to visit a couple of their sponsors.

The day after launch, we visited one of Monash Motorsport's sponsors, Marand, who support the team with their CNC Machining. We were shown around by Sam Nicholls, a fellow Brit, an Oxford Brookes graduate and Formula Student alumni who moved to Melbourne a couple of years after graduating. It was nice hearing another British accent amidst the distinctive Australian voices we've become accustomed too!

Marand's facilities were very impressive, but it was good knowing that everything they support Monash with, we have available to us in WMG, along with an amazing, skilled workshop team who help us when they can!

We left Marand and spent the afternoon and evening back at the workshop - we even managed to get an uncommon early night ahead of our first weekend in Melbourne.

Time for some real downtime :)


December 21, 2013

Launch 05/12

I attended the Warwick launch of WR3 in May earlier this year, and assumed that was how car launches always were. It was just before exams for the team, and two months before comp - the car wasn't complete, and the audience predominantly consisted of sponsors and the previous Warwick Racing team.

In the run-up to the Australasian competition, it seems that teams down under do it differently to Warwick. Their launches are closer to competition (2 weeks before rather than 2 months before), their cars are finished, and they invite family, friends, sponsors, alumni and other FSAE teams.

MW Launch 4

This year, Monash combined the launch of their M13 car with welcoming Warwick, thus lending us to re-launch WR3 alongside their car too.

The evening was a definite success. Over 150 people attended and the apparent heaps of planning really paid off. For the presentation, we also had the rest of Warwick Racing and one of our sponsors Productiv watching from University of Warwick campus - it was the perfect opportunity to showcase the technology that has made our collaboration with Monash so successful, and it was great to see the team again!

The presentations at the Launch went really well - it was great to present alongside Hamish (Monash Team Leader) after his introduction and speak about the Alliance our two teams have formed from the help of the overall Monash-Warwick Alliance.

Following the presentations, I was approached by a number of people welcoming me and congratulating me and the rest of the team in our successes so far in just getting the car and team over to Melbourne.

In the run-up to competition, it's easy to think that your success will be determined by your competition performance. However, these Monash sponsors, alumni, and family members made me remember that we have already achieved so much.

But, we did come here for a competition. With just one week to go, it was time to get back to the workshop...


December 11, 2013

Bosch 03/12

Following the excitement of finding WR3 alive and well at the Monash workshop, we left Clayton Campus early Sunday evening to get some well needed sleep.

We started early Monday morning to shake-down WR3 ready for testing on Tuesday at Bosch at the AARC in Anglesea. We got her up and running, had a quick Skype call with the team back home, and made sure we were ready for the following day.

Our test-day at Bosch was brilliant.

We were hosted by Damon Fuller, a Formula Student veteran and fellow Brit who competed at Formula Student UK and Formula SAE-Australasia in 2004 with the University of Birmingham team alongside Monash.

Getting WR3 out on the track was great and she ran better than ever! We had some niggling issues, but they were all fixable and we had a really productive day of testing. Working alongside the Monash guys was a lot of fun and I'm so glad they also had a generally successful test day.

Alongside testing, we saw some kangaroos (one for the bucket list) and drove an old Holden Commodore around the proving ground with and without active control systems. To quote DP:

'Car + Gravel - Traction Control = Immense Fun.'

Upon leaving Bosch, a few of us went to the beach and had fish and chips for dinner before heading back to Monash to unload. I didn't believe the Monash guys when they said fish and chips were better in Australia than they are in the UK, but turns out they're right!

AARCBoschBells BeachKanga

Back at Monash, the guys unloaded the car while I met with AV Services at Warwick to discuss the upcoming video link for the Monash-Warwick Launch and Welcome event in a couple of days.

With over 150 people due to attend, including Andrew Coats, the top-dog of the Monash-Warwick Alliance, the pressure is definitely on to impress on a global scale. Taking WR3 to Anglesea on a 'ute' down gravelly roads 2 days before she is officially 'launched' in Australia probably wasn't our brightest idea.

Time to clean her up!


December 05, 2013

Down Under

Following a near-sleepless night completing a 5 minute Design video for FSAE-A, the time came for a few Warwick Racing team members to say goodbye to the rest of the team as they left for Birmingham International Airport.

Checking in made me face the reality of what was happening: time to leave the UK for Melbourne. Watching the car leave Warwick and arrive at Monash a couple of weeks before, it felt good to be following WR3 down under, if not a little terrifying! Having never ventured outside of Europe, the thought of flying from Birmingham to Dubai to Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne in the space of 26 hours only added to the fear.

The flight itself wasn't too bad. Although having to go through 3 security checks has now made me rethink what I'll be taking in hand luggage on the way back...

Landing at Tullamarine airport was a welcome relief from the interior of the Boeing 777. We were all quite tired but excitement and adrenaline took over as we got closer to finally meeting the Monash Motorsport team.

Baggage claim and customs were surprisingly quick, so it was time to meet the Monash team. They were ready and waiting in Arrivals with sleepy smiles and handmade signs! It was surprising how easy it was meeting the people we've been constantly communicating with over the last 6 months: video conferencing has helped us get to know one another in a way emailing would never have allowed. It felt like I was seeing old friends rather than meeting them for the first time.

We left the airport and following some breakfast made our way to the Monash Engineering Building where our crate was ready and waiting for us to open it. Tensions were high and I was reluctant for us to open it straight away for fear of what we might find. I saw first hand what problems can occur in shipping a Formula Student car when visiting the FS Germany competition in August - Alexandria University from Egypt opened their crate to find their car damaged and unable to compete, so I think my fears were warranted.

WR3 was in the crate (yay!) with no visible damage or signs of neglect in transit. I was so happy and would definitely use Delivered on Time in the future if I ever need to ship a car again.

With the team having finally joined WR3 in Melbourne, it was time for the fun to begin.

Time to get her started...

WR check inMMS and WR at TullamarineMMS and WR at TullamarineWarwick on crate


November 24, 2013

5 days to go!

WR3 arrived safely at Monash University on Wednesday.

WR3 at Monash

What a relief!

Having no experience in shipping a race car to Australia I can easily say, now that WR3 is there, I was worried that it wouldn't get there in time, or wouldn't get there at all!

Seeing this photo from the Monash guys has definitely put my mind at ease and if I can do this bit right, arguably the most challenging aspect of the trip, everything else should be under control too. That said, there will definitely be a massive sigh of relief from me everytime something related to the trip goes to plan.

Everyday of the 4 months since confirmation of support from the Monash-Warwick Alliance, I have had one persistent thought in the back of my mind - 'Have I forgotten something?'. I generally have this feeling when leaving the house everyday, but the usual check of 'keys, purse, phone' won't cut it this time. The question more accurately is 'Have I forgottento dosomething?'. Time management is definitely the greatest challenge for me this year. There is always so much to do and so little time to do it, but with the great team I have around me, there haven't been any problems so far.

With only 5 days til our flights to Melbourne, everything is in place (or is planned to be before we leave). While a few of us are competing in Australia, the majority of the Warwick Racing team will be on campus either finalising designs, ordering parts and planning manufacture for WR4, or finalising specifications, refining concepts and planning component testing for WR5.

Location aside, it's a busy run up to Christmas for Warwick Racing. Let's hope Santa brings everyone what they want.

"All I want for Christmas is..."a tan.


November 12, 2013

Til next time…

Today saw us say goodbye to WR3 as she left her home in the IMC for a 2 month 'jolly' to Australia. Unfortunately for her, opportunities to put another 'shrimp on the barbie' will be limited. Instead, the focus will be on learning from Formula Student UK by successfully completing all dynamic events at Formula SAE-Australasia, thus establishing Warwick Racing within the global Formula Student community. No pressure then.

Personally, emotions were running high today. I first met WR3 5 months ago, when I was taken under the wing of the 2013 Warwick Racing team. Since then, we have been through the good and the bad, the hot (the fire...) and the cold (the fire extinguisher...). Emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement. It is surprising how 3 months of raising money, comparing quotes, and prepping WR3, can result in just 15 minutes of lifting, loading and leaving.

The Monash-Warwick Formula Student Alliance ball has officially started rolling with the first physical milestone of our Australia campaign complete. Finally seeing our planning and preparation start to deliver visible actions has given me a sense of pride and achievement both in myself and in everyone involved over the last few months. It really makes the long days of hard work worthwhile (note time of publication).

Next stop for the Australia campaign - Birmingham International Airport.

Next stop for me - The NEC.


November 07, 2013

Hitting the ground running…

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/eng/meng/warwickracing/fs/

Hey, I'm Hannah. I am the Project Manager for this year's Warwick Racing Formula Student (FS) team.

me.jpg

This is the first blog I've written, so I guess that makes me a bit of a late bloomer to the blogging scene. I've started now to keep track of my 'Year in the Life of Warwick Racing'. The plan is for these entries to help keep me sane throughout the year, but also to be something that I can look back on with that warm and fuzzy nostalgia I've seen from other FS alumni and think: "It really was great fun - not sure I'd do it again though...".

So far, I would definitely do it again. This is partly because I have been instrumental in making sure that we (Warwick Racing) get the opportunity to take on our biggest challenge yet. In a matter of weeks, we'll be travelling overseas to compete at Formula SAE-Australasia in Melbourne, Australia; our first competition outside the UK.

Note: Most UK teams choose Germany or Spain as their second competition outside the UK, but we thought why not go the whole hog and compete on the opposite side of the world?!

After almost 6 months of planning, fund-raising and overseas collaborating, next Monday sees the WR3 car leave the University of Warwick campus for sunnier skies at Monash University. We have been lucky enough to establish a successful and sustainable partnership with the Monash Motorsport team thanks to the support given to us by the Monash-Warwick Alliance: this partnership sees our new friends at Monash hosting myself and 7 other team members for just under 3 weeks this winter (or summer if you're reading from down under) pre- and post-competition.

Today has been a frantic day of tying up loose ends in preparation for Monday's looming collection. The pressure is on to make sure we don't leave anything behind: a 40 minute drive back to campus from the competition isn't an option this time round! So, the packing list has been finalised, we've weighed everything we're taking (including the surprisingly light but space-hogging racesuits!) and we've decided on exactly how our list of must-haves can get to the other side of the world safely and legally - airline restrictions are a minefield for the travelling engineer.

There are just a few more bits to finish on the car prior to shipping (draining and de-gassing the fuel tank, changing tyres) and then it's onto packaging everything so that it's ready when the crate arrives. We have a busy few days ahead in making sure everything is perfectly in order for Monday - there is no room for error given the time and money invested in us.

I'd like to be able to say that everything will calm down once WR3 leaves, but with the rest of the Australia contingent leaving 18 days later and tight deadlines approaching for the 2014 car design, 'calm' isn't really a state I'm going to be familiar with anytime soon.

In the Warwick Racing FS briefing at the start of the year, our supervisors stressed the urgency of remaining in a state of 'controlled panic' throughout the project for it to be a success. I had hoped they were joking.


November 06, 2013

Introducing: A Year in the Life of Warwick Racing

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/eng/meng/warwickracing/

Members of Warwick Racing 2013/14We are pleased to announce that over the coming academic year, we will be hosting a series of blog posts written by Hannah Sugrue. Hannah is a 4th year undergraduate Engineering student and she is also Project Manager of the 2013/14 Warwick Racing Formula Student project.

Warwick Racing is a collection of final year student projects supported by WMG, in which the students take on the considerable task of developing a race car and all the accompanying challenges that go along with getting it from the drawing board to the racing track. But we'll leave Hannah to tell you the rest!

It will be fascinating to hear, from Hannah’s point of view, everything that the team goes through to get to the end of the project - we know they've got some really exciting things planned along the way. We look forward to bringing you the first of Hannah’s posts in the next few days.

Watch this space…


June 10, 2013

How do we address sustainability? (Mead Gallery Exhibition)

Writing about web page http://www.meadgallery.co.uk/events/visual-arts/artists-plans-for-sustainability

Carole Collet video on There is currently an interesting exhibition taking place at the Mead Gallery at Warwick Arts Centre. The title of the exhibition is ‘Artists’ Plans for Sustainability’ (02 May – 22 June). The concept is to bring together artists’ plans for innovative and radical solutions to a more sustainable way of life. This is a subject close to our hearts at WMG as we work across disciplines to try and develop research and business solutions to address such sustainability issues.

There are all sorts of statistics available which inspire debate about sustainability and the future. The Mead Gallery’s summary information provides some of these: in a few decades, the world’s population will exceed 9 billion, 70% of whom will live in cities; if everyone on Earth lived like a person in the UK, the population would need 2.75 times the resources provided by our planet. This sort of information is encouraging discussion and decision about sustainability and how we continue to support our population in the future.

One of the artists featured in the exhibition is Carole Collet, who has used bio-technologies to imagine sustainable materials and industries for the future. Recognising that current manufacturing models rely on ever-increasing exploitation of natural resources, Carole has proposed an alternative called ‘bio-hacking’ – the alteration of biological codes to create new, living organisms that have manufacturing capabilities – the exhibition demonstrates this in a video piece. Through bio-hacking, ready-made textiles could be harvested from plants which also produce fruit and vegetables – see Biolace. The Biolace website itself invites you to “imagine a world where biological fabrication replaces traditional manufacture, plants that grow products, and bacteria genetically re-programmed to ‘biofacture’ new materials, artefacts, energy or medicine.” 

It is clear from this that ideas such as that of bio-engineering are set to be highly controversial, but it is also important that an exhibition like this raises the question and inspires the debate – something that art (as well as science) should be a part of. The statistics about population growth highlighted above suggest that this is an issue that we are going to have to address in our near future. We now have these advanced technologies and capabilities available to us, what are we prepared to do as a society to maintain or change current ways of doing things?

WMGSarah Shalgosky, Curator at the Arts Centre, showed us round the Mead Gallery exhibition recently and raised a really interesting point about the work that artists are doing and the work that scientists and engineers do, such as those at WMG. You may remember some news stories in recent years about our sustainable WorldFirst Formula 3 car, developed by a team of researchers at WMG. This was a fun and effective way to demonstrate how we can start making changes that might impact on sustainability in the future. The fundamental point was that the automotive industry in general has to reduce its environmental impact. The team working on the project came up with what, in theory, seemed like an almost paradoxical concept – an ‘environmentally-friendly racing car’, but that’s why it created such interest and debate; it was deliberately extreme to make that very point. What commitment are we willing to make to sustainability?

This is the same question that the artists in this exhibition are asking.

The University of Warwick’s Global Research Priorities programme focuses its research on key areas of international significance, which include Energy, Food, Innovative Manufacturing and Sustainable Cities. The programme brings together researchers from across disciplines to think about some of these issues of sustainability for the future and how we can work together to look at problems from a rounded viewpoint – thinking about things technologically, creatively, ethically, economically and more. WMG demonstrating new technologies to business partnersThis is the way that WMG has always operated – experts from across disciplines are brought together to look at subjects from different perspectives and adapt solutions from one sector or industry to assist another. Art is another arena where such plans are being conceptualised and presented to the public for consideration.

I would recommend a visit to the Mead’s exhibition if you have some spare time - see what your opinion is.


April 23, 2013

This_is_Tomorrow: artists meet the academy at WMG

Writing about web page http://www.warwickartscentre.co.uk/project/projects/this_is_tomorrow

In March, WMG received a visit from a group of artists as part of a project, commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre and China Plate Productions, called This_is_Tomorrow. It turned out to be a really fascinating and thought-provoking experience for all involved.

To describe the context of the visit first: five artists were invited to visit five Science departments at the University of Warwick over a period of five days. The project aims to ‘generate new artistic ideas through unique artist/academic collaborations.’ Artists were carefully selected from across disciplines, exposed to a range of research and its authors, with the aim of exploring and illuminating ‘contemporary thinking and research about the human condition and key issues that face humanity across a range of subjects’. Or to put it another way - artists and academics are often the people who ask and/or answer the difficult ‘big’ questions in our society – what happens if you combine them together in an open and unmediated manner?

This is the second year This_is_Tomorrow has taken place at Warwick. The first tangible outcome of last year’s interaction is a theatre production called ‘Bank On It’ (Theatre Rites), co-produced in association with Warwick’s department of Economics. Bank On It is opening at the Barbican in London in June 2013.

IIPSI Building at nightSo on Day Two of this year’s collaboration, the artists involved came to WMG to meet some of our leading academics. Those involved in the day were:

Artists:

  • Alecky Blythe (Playwright and screenwriter)
  • Chris Goode (Performance artist)
  • Charlotte Vincent (Artistic Director of Vincent Dance Theatre)
  • Robin Rimbaud AKA Scanner (Electronic musician and producer)
  • Michelle Browne (Performance artist and curator)

Academics:

  • Paul Jennings (Professor of Experiential Engineering)
  • Irene Ng (Professor of Service Systems and Marketing)
  • Christopher James (Professor of Healthcare Technologies)
  • Lucy Hooberman (Professor of Digital Media)
  • Jamie Mackrill (Researcher in Healthcare Environments)

It was really interesting the way the group saw the work of WMG and the way they were able to relate it back to their own work and lives. Matt Trueman – the journalist who was following the group for the week – has written an interesting blog post about the day and the academics they met. Something the group seemed to take from our academics is that a lot of our research is based around what consumers / people want and they raised the question of whether it is a good thing that we are conducting R&D based upon what people say they want or need. It is logical that this is an objective of WMG’s research, as so much of what we do is in partnership with industry and, therefore, based on the needs of customers. This idea came up again and again - when discussing what sounds a car should make, how cities / buildings should be designed and constructed, and how people should access their local health services. Our work in many of these areas looks at what people generally find appealing and useful and how we can use this information to improve products and services.

Staff in IIPSIAn example of an interesting conversation struck up around soundscapes and experiential research. We realised there was common ground between what an artist might be commissioned to produce (an example cited was a sound installation for a bereavement suite at a hospital) compared to what WMG’s experiential researchers are trying to do (for example, create an appealing sound environment in a hospital ward). The two are similarly not trying to create either silence or noticeable sound, but a fitting background for a specific environment that people might find themselves in at difficult times. Success in both cases is measured by how positively the environment is changed for those using it. I enjoyed seeing how the artists and academics found common ground like this and how they can sometimes use the same bases to create something to enhance an environment.

What really surprised me about the project, was the mental and physical effort of the week from the artists’ points of view. Only on Day Two of a five-day visit, when they arrived at WMG, the group already seemed slightly dazed by the sheer amount of information that was being poured into them throughout their daunting schedule. The group spoke of the previous day spent visiting the department of Physics and talks about nuclear fusion and fission and miles of blackboard equations. Even after their day at WMG, they still had Economics, Sociology and Mathematics to go! This is a lot of heavy information to take in over the course of one week and from so many different angles. However, this is obviously part of the ‘chemistry’ involved in making the project work. The group are bombarded with ideas and concepts with the hope that one or two ideas take seed in someone’s brain and grow into a new creative idea, a new way of looking at something.

We are eager to see whether any of the meetings from this year’s This_is_Tomorrow project develop into something more. We will keep you posted with any news…


March 28, 2013

WMG on The One Show

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/research/rtg-materials-manufacturing/research/3d_printing

BBC One Show 3You may have seen WMG featured on BBC1’s The One Show last night (Wed 27th March) in a piece about the increasingly popular subject of 3D printing (or Additive Layer Manufacturing as it is also known).

We thoroughly enjoyed being part of this feature and hope that it demonstrated some of the unbelievable opportunities that surround the advancement of these incredible technologies.

Presenter, Marty Jopson, and his production crew came to visit WMG earlier this month to see what we do and to film some of the technology in action. They met Dr Greg Gibbons, Head of WMG’s Additive Layer Manufacturing research, who you will have seen in the piece showing Marty how it works. Greg showed Marty round the facilities that we have available at WMG and, together, they filmed a number of segments to show the range of applications available for 3D printing. The first thing they did was to design a mystery object and set off the printer to print it!

BBC One Show 6There were a couple of things that we hoped to try and get across in the piece – the things that make 3D printing such an exciting development. Firstly, the fact that 3D printing enables the user to print a range of complex objects in one complete structure with no assembly required. Secondly, the immense number of industries and sectors that will be able to benefit from this in the future. Greg showed an example to demonstrate this – a small but complex part part from a Formula One racing car (a steering manifold). If you looked closely you would also have seen a model of a patient’s fractured pelvis which was CT scanned, then manufactured by Greg and sent to hospital to be used by a doctor to prepare for his surgery – two completely different uses but both where precision and customisation are essential. Not only this, but imagine the tantalising proposition that, one day in the future, we may be able to afford to own one of these machines in our homes to print off our own objects. The price of 3D printers has already dropped considerably as companies realise their potential commercial value so it may not be in the too distant future.

Marty also showed a number of other objects that had been 3D printed to show the value for the public, as well as industry. There were some amazingly intricate objects, all of which had been printed – cups, toys, bike parts, jewellery, even a violin!

This then lead us to the mystery object that Greg and Marty had printed – a customised ‘One Show’ corkscrew. Printed in its entirety with moving parts and, of course, they had to check that it worked on a nearby wine cork!

Did you see us on The One Show? What would you like to print if you had your very own 3D printer?

BBC One Show 1 BBC One Show 5

BBC One Show 4 BBC One Show 2