Science & Tech

The car on track. Image: Jacob D'Aoust/Provided
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On Oct. 2 2021, the U of O formula team participated in the 2021 shootout race hosted by the University of Toronto in Cambridge, Ont. The race is normally held internationally, with teams invited from both Canada and the United States. However, due to COVID-19, this year only Canadian racing teams were present. Shootout is a friendly event and is not typically sanctioned by the society of automotive engineers (SAE). 

In an interview with the Fulcrum, Ibrahim Chohan and Armin Teymouri, fourth-year mechanical engineering students and formula uOttawa team leads, explained the event and their expectations for the team. 

“It’s not like a Formula 1 race: we don’t race wheel to wheel. They stagger the launches 30 seconds apart, and they wait until you’re a safe distance apart until they launch the next team. For scoring, they take the average time between your drivers.”

Both Chohan and Teymouri said before the race, they expected to finish mid-pack due to the fact that the car hasn’t run in over a year and a half. “The car was disassembled in 2020 before COVID-19, and we weren’t anticipating ever using that car again. So I imagine one or two things are gonna break and we’re not going to do so well. But the only reason we are going to the shootout in the first place is to get new members excited.” 

In an email following the day of their race, Chohan wrote, “we didn’t make top three, but the rest of the rankings haven’t been posted yet. All in all we did as well as we expected, if not better.”

In 2019 the team finished in 9th place with an average time of 46.2 seconds.

When asked the motivations behind the creation of the formula team, Teymouri responded, “I think most engineering students who graduate from school realize that it doesn’t give you any sort of practical experience. It doesn’t set you up well for any design experience at all, which is why internships and clubs like this exist.” 

“One of the biggest things when it comes to the car, and our motivation with it, is at the end of the day, this is for every student. This is the biggest opportunity for them to build a full fledged product that you can actually use and drive,” added Chohan. 

Currently, the formula team is working on reorganizing and restructuring the team dynamics. At the moment, Formula uOttawa is dominated by senior engineering students, however, as Teymouri explains, “we’re trying to get a lot of the newer people up to speed as quickly as we can. So we’re delegating a lot of responsibilities to people who are either new members or joined the team last year.”

In terms of team structure, “we have the overarching club, which involves a lot of new people joining the team. People who just want to be part of the team and see what’s going on. Then there’s the team, these are the ones who are trying to get involved in design tasks, working on different projects. Next, there’s the core team, which we’re assigning critical projects and systems. Lastly, there are the leads who know enough to delegate or to manage their own system,” said Chohan

The idea behind this inner team and outer team system, is to hopefully incorporate workshops led by the inner team to general club and team members. The workshops will seek to involve students even if they haven’t worked directly with the car while also providing the tools necessary to contribute to the team in a meaningful way once they graduate to the inner team (core team). 

This year for formula in addition to team restructuring, they are manufacturing and designing a new car. This will involve many days and nights working in the shop, going out to test the car, and ensuring all the major components and subcomponents are working properly. 

A goal for the formula team has been to complete an endurance test, which involves racing for 45 minutes straight alternating drivers halfway. The team has never been able to complete one. However, this year, the team leads are confident in their ability to succeed. 

Aside from competing, the formula team plans to host social events and workshops on vehicle dynamics and engineering-related topics. In the future, the formula team will work towards designing, manufacturing, and testing their new car to be used in Formula SAE competitions. 

For more information about Formula uOttawa, visit their website here.