UCD Formula Student is a student driven team building an electric Formula-1 style car to compete in the Formula Student Electric Competition, at the iconic Silverstone Circuit in the UK. Ahead of their second year competing in the Formula Sae Electric series, The College Tribune spoke to the UCDFS Head of Business Operations Marcus Ryan, and Head of Steering, Suspension and Braking, Robert Burke.
As the team prepares for a new season of the Formula SAE Electric, they will need to compete against a new group of new teams from across the globe at the UK’s Silverstone Circuit this July. The competition has expanded massively since its inception in 1979 with more than 600 teams taking part with new teams joining every year from universities across the world. In recent years, a new electric formula series was launched which prompted UCD’s return to the competition.
Explaining the choice of the electric series, Marcus Ryan detailed how exciting it was to be at the forefront of a rapidly growing industry, stressing the importance of giving students the opportunity to get hands on experience of electric engineering. The benefits do not end there however, Robert Burke explained that in terms of marketing, the electric series “screams much louder” than their combustion engine based counterparts, making it much easier to get sponsorships and thus funding.
Despite working on a budget roughly that is roughly 90 percent smaller than that of the big teams, the UCD group managed to finish 8th overall in 2019, the team’s first ever year in the series, and are looking to improve upon that record in July. “We want to build on [last year]. It was a very solid foundation that we built, so naturally we want to continue that progress while also maintaining the efficiency we showed last year”.
Burke explained that the 58 person team “is at a slight disadvantage because UCD has no courses with an automotive focus” and that the lack of an aeronautical engineering course in the university created barriers for the team. The nature of the competition however, is such that teams often help each other out with different elements of the production process and that newer teams often reached for advice to those well established in the series.
The manufacturing of their 273kg car is done entirely in the workshop of Reactive Welding, a local welding company that sponsors the team to house an electric motor capable of putting 130 brake-horsepower through the wheels. The team explained that the lightweight nature of the car, combined with the instant torque provided by electric power means that they “really come into their own under acceleration”. The team explained that they would need to be “all hands on deck” in order to get the car ready for Silverstone in July and urged anyone interested in joining the effort to get in touch via social media at UCD Formula Student.
Hugh Dooley – Reporter