Formula Electric Passed Tech!!!

…and will run the dynamic events tomorrow!

As often stated, E-Racing is new in the U.S., in only three years old. During that time fewer than 10 North American cars out of 30+ teams have qualified to drive, and the Miners managed that in only their sophomore attempt.

It didn’t take long for the Miners to pass their “eTech re-check” today, but you could see the electrical crew ready to jump through their collective skins in anticipation. Nathan Loika DSC_0522especially, since he’s poured over two years of his young life into the Formula Electric project. When it came time to apply the “pass” sticker it was almost as if he couldn’t believe it, didn’t quite know what to do.

Artemis will start dynamic testing tomorrow morning in its brand new livery. Acceleration, braking, noise (NOISE??) and skid pad, with autocross to run in the afternoon.DSC_0262 The electric field will be somewhat bigger than last year’s threesome; S&T will be at least the 4th car approved to fly the airpark tarmac tomorrow.

And it’s still hot. Very hot.

FSAE Glides Through Tech Inspection

Almost.

You’d think with two other Formula design events (7th in Michigan and 1st in Toronto) under their belts in the past month that passing tech would be a slam dunk. Not so.
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One tech inspection judge took a dim view of their safety harness guides, the same ones that served well in two events, and said “change it!” Doing so was not technically challenging but the Miners executed the work in an amazing manner according to outgoing leader Alex Mills. He said “we got back from weigh-in just 30 minutes before the Lincoln Welding facility closed for the day and this amazing group jumped on the job with everything they had! Some pulled off delicate DSC_0655electronic components while others got the generator out and fired up the compressor to grind off the existing guides. Jacqueline Stock and Jarrett Harkless made new steel guides and the crew pushed the car 100+ yards to the Lincoln location and got the job done just at closing time!”

That gave the S&T Formula combustion team an easy day ahead of tomorrow’s dynamic challenges so everything was checked and rechecked. Oil leaks were cleaned off and tracked down. Jacqueline found a tight spot in the accelerator travel and fixed it with a new knuckle, and other team members handled less important tasks.

Heresy warning: It’s not about the car, it’s about teamwork. Observers were impressed by how Jarrett, Alex and Jacqueline went back and forth on what to do about the accelerator return springDSC_0615 before agreeing that other options might be better but that they’d stick with a compromise solution as the best strategy for the two remaining days of the season.

Jarrett and Jacqueline are young, but they already understand the entire design process. Jarrett has been elected team leader for ’16-’17, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jacqueline succeed him in another year.

Alex says “we’ve knick-named her “lil’ Jay Hammer” because she gets things done.”

Racing In A Winter Wonderland

The Michigan Formula SAE Collegiate Design competition is always a weather crapshoot. It’s early spring in the northern tier states and blasts of cold air are not uncommon so event veterans come prepared for anything. Students new to the event? Not so much.
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What they got for ’16 was pretty much everything. Wind chills hovering at freezing, round after round of driving, biting sleet and a whopping downpour mixed in to chill the bones of even the hardiest soul.
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In short, Saturday’s endurance finale was miserable for sponsors, spectators and pit crews alike but one event judge said “the drivers LOVE to run in the rain!” Should we ever thaw one out we’ll ask if that was the case.
The enduro course is a proving ground, designed to weed out/wear out weaker designs that might not be able to hold up to what the theoretical customers might do to the cars when they enter the market. It’s a grueling event for drivers and machines alike.
Aside from the miserable precipitation many teams may have benefited from the colder temps. The slower run groups usually have higher attrition rates. Could be something as simple as inexperience or smaller budgets that prevent some teams from reaching the performance levels of some schools (ahem!) MINERS! that consistently run in the top 20% of the rankings, but we’re guessing the cold winds took some of the load off of engine cooling systems. With such a high percentage of teams finishing endurance it took a LOT longer to run 100+ cars through the course. By the time the fastest dozen or so cars hit the track it was nearly 6:00 p.m., some three hours later than usual.
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Mizzou’s group took the brunt of the weather mess. At the storm’s peak the race was halted when conditions became unsafe; drivers couldn’t see where they were going. Problem was the drivers had to remain in in their open cockpits until the storm passed. No word on whether their fire-proof racing suits were also designed for the cold….
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By the time S&T hit the track visibility had improved, but the standing water was still a big factor. Derek Martin opened the Miners’ effort by throwing rooster-geysers into cars foolish enough to get too close. As track conditions gradually improved Caleb Alne set out to scorch-dry the track all by himself, passing several of the other top drivers in an all-out effort to climb in the dynamic points totals.
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With just a half lap to go Caleb’s front wing sent a cone flying and peeled a carbon-fiber panel left flapping in the wind, but somehow it stayed attached. Had it torn off Car #16 might have been black-flagged just a few hundred yards from the finish. Every Miner there held their breath to the point of passing out, just hoping Caleb, who probably didn’t realize the damage, could nurse “Holly” to the checkered flag.

And Caleb nailed it, capping a surge from 13th in the pre-enduro standings to a 7th place finish out of some 117 formula design teams. That earned them a small trophy and a big dinner invitation from SpaceX recruiters! It’s pretty much guaranteed Alex Mills’ team asked SpaceX folks to raise a glass in memory of Joe Boze.

Rain? Cold? They don’t remember anything like that.

To The People Who Got Us Here

S&T’s Formula SAE team is at the Michigan International Raceway for the annual SAE contest. There’s lots of stories to tell and pictures to show, but first, please join Miner Racing to thank
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Joe Boze, who passed away last year. For years Joe was the Formula SAE Team’s go-to guy for machining support, but that was the least of Joe’s contributions to the mechanical engineering department. Joe was the penultimate gentleman. A gracious, soft-spoken guy who was a wonderful teacher, advisor, friend and colleague. For decades Joe would remain calm in the face of students’ automotive parts crises, always ready to calm the situation by explaining that things were not that bad, always ready to apply a little machine-shop ‘magic’ to help ease the panic.

His manufacturing peers across campus didn’t often hear from Joe until he stumbled on some machinery or materials that he thought valuable to other departments. He’d call to say “hey, I just came across this stuff and thought you might like some for your shop.”

There were no departmental boundaries for Joe, as in his heart all S&T faculty and staff were here for the students. Everyone knew, respected and loved Joe Boze for his many skills. Certainly thousands of S&T students, staff, and faculty will count themselves richer for having met, worked with, and been friends of Joe’s. FSAE alumni will raise a glass to his name so long as they count themselves engineers. And for years to come incoming S&T students will hear “ahhh, you should have known Joe!”

You’ll always be in our hearts, Joe. We were lucky beyond words to count you as our friend.

Where Are They Now?

Each year some 250 students “graduate” from S&T’s student design teams, and for their hard work they also get a bachelor’s degree almost as important to employers as their design team experience.

These grads seem to disappear into the bowels of industry perhaps to redesign Corvettes, return to campus with a pre-production Chevy Volt, and rise to an investment manager at GM Ventures about ten years down the line.

But some Miner grads carve their own path into the world, and so begins the story of Doug Hoang, his friends, and their new start-up company, Enflux.
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Doug (BS ME ’10), seen above testing engine sound levels at the Michigan International Speedway, was the 2010 engine group lead on S&T’s Formula SAE team. “Through the design team program I developed friendships with many like-minded students some of whom I took engineering classes with. Eventually some of us became roommates and that’s where we began to realize that we wanted to start a company together,” says Doug.

“Matt Brown (ME ’09) whose chief engineer’s role on the Human Powered Vehicle Team culminated in S&T being the first team ever to capture a National Championship (2007), and Elijah Schuldt (AE, EE, ’10) Advanced Aero team president (2009) and micro-class chief engineer (2010), and I stayed in touch after graduation to work on our entrepreneurial dreams.”

“Enflux began to take shape after Eli and I developed sensor technology to analyze motion in racecars. At the time I was also training to run triathlon but wasn’t getting the results I wanted and kept getting injured. I realized we could put the same racecar sensors on the body to collect data on movement during exercise, and the idea was born. why not develop a line of athletic clothing with embedded motion sensors that capture your body’s 3D movement during exercise?”
“The clothing measures the quality of your form, intensity of your workout, other advanced exercise metrics, and reports back on a smartphone app in real-time. After your workout is complete, you can review results, get coaching on your form, and view a 3D avatar performing the exercises exactly as you just did.”

“We’ve sunk a lot of our own money into this project and already lined up major investors, and our next step is a kickstarter campaign at getenflux.com that starts today.”

“All this is happening because, some ten years ago, each of us decided to join a Missouri S&T design team. Best decision we ever made.”

The Best Birthday Present EVER!

And the story behind it…

Let us first introduce to you, Richard Dalton, shop and safety operations manager at S&T’s Student Design and Experiential Learning Center.

Richard has a slightly mellow personality, but he shoulders tremendous responsibility at the center. He teaches dozens of technical and safety classes, oversees OrgSync and all the sophisticated software needed to design student projects, buys (or steals) and maintains a barn full of lathes, mills, grinders, welders, and composite layup equipment, machines that well-meaning (but inexperienced) students seem to trash as fast as he can fix it.

Richard also teaches truck/trailer drivers’ education classes after normal(?) duty hours. It’s a wonder he hasn’t burst a blood vessel trying to show students how to back up a 28-foot trailer, or park a big dually pickup truck. Stressful at best…

He’s a master mechanic, superb machinist and even built his own home. A computer/IT wizard, YouTube aficionado, and has been deployed to Afganistan with the Army Reserve.

DSC_7810His office is his inner sanctum, his personal retreat where few are welcome. It’s home to several video monitors, his personal tool set, and the occasional canoe when things get too crowded in the shop. It’s even been known to house a few hundred plastic Easter eggs lovingly placed where it’ll take him months to find them.

But.

DSC_3246Many months ago, Richard’s very expensive and custom-fitted office chair went missing. He was very “close” to that chair and distraught when it disappeared, as similar chairs just wouldn’t “fit.” There were rumors it rolled away DSC_6536 (1) on its own, to go “find itself” and travel the world. Sightings were reported all over the western U.S., often in the vicinity of traveling S&T design teams it was said.
But it never resurfaced.

Fast forward to Irvine, California with the Solar House Design Team and their Nest Home at the Solar Decathlon; high-energy house reassembly under strict time constraints. Richard absolutely WOWED the students with his skills, enthusiasm and experience, and with his birthday on the horizon the students were desperate to show their appreciation to “’Mater,” as he’s known on campus. What to do?

The house has to be furnished, right? What if, just IF, they could find the errant furniture, wouldn’t it be great to bring it “home”? If they COULD recover it, how could they possibly sneak it into the Nest Home as a proper surprise? What on-hand equipment could they use?

Well, there IS that big crane sitting right outside, and since Richard (that’s him on the left) was busy talking……….
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And THAT is the story of the best birthday present EVER!

P.S. Too bad the crane operator wouldn’t haul him up about 100 ft. Stupid OSHA rules…..

It’s Late. Missouri S&T’s Two Formula Teams are Bone Tired but Happy.

In S&T’s first Formula Electric event, the Miners didn’t make it on to the track, but they had lots of company. Of the fifteen or so electric vehicles on site only three or four passed tech inspections.

Of that group, only two attempted the endurance race.

Of those two, just one finished the 22km event.

The Electric Racing Team is smiling nonetheless, because they took a remarkable 5th place on the strength of their cost, weight, design, and presentation efforts.

The Miners’ internal combustion team had their 8th place in autocross revised to 6th overall, so they raced with the very best teams at the final event.
FSAE1DSC_3547Caleb Alne scorched the track and set the fastest time of the day. The car was running unbelievably well and he was carving up the track like an experienced surgeon. #81 had the crowd cheering, but when Caleb pulled in to change drivers there was oil all over the engine pan. Officials pulled them from the field, leaving the Miners with the dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish) that will knock them well down in the final standings.

Just an hour later the gas-powered designers were all upbeat and smiling as they packed up their trailer. They knew these things happen, but now it was time to think about doing better next year. And that’s cause for excitement.

A Little FSAE Get-together with a Few Thousand of Your Closest Friends.

Without Food, Water, Chairs or Bathrooms.

Storms, high winds and lighting called a two-hour halt to this morning’s operations, so everyone was moved inside a maintenance building for safety. Fortunately the weather settled down before SAE officials had a riot on their hands.

Most events have been pushed back accordingly and S&T’s Formula SAE team will be heading to noise, fuel, tilt stand and acceleration shortly. Formula Electric, flush with excitement over fixing their motor controller, will probably get to tech inspection in the early evening.

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These Hotels Are The PITS!!!!

Last night (and early this morning) budget hotel parking lots near the Lincoln, NE Municipal Airport resembled tent cities, converted to temporary “pits’ by some of 80+ Formula SAE and Formula SAE Electric teams in town for a design competition.
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A number of the racing design teams rolled their cars out for last-minute adjustments or even final assembly. If there wasn’t enough room in their hotel lot the next-door restaurant’s asphalt did very nicely. Perkins restaurant/bakery was especially accommodating, thank you very much!

NathanSUN_6196Missouri S&T has two teams in the event, veteran Formula SAE (S&T Racing as they like to call themselves) and rookie team Formula SAE Electric. Electric design events are just getting established in North America and there are growing pains for organizers and teams alike. S&T’s E211 car had some maddening gremlins pop up where least expected. Head electrical engineer Nathan Loika was up all night trying to figure out why the motor controller wasn’t giving the drive motor enough current to make the wheels spin.nightDSC_1523 - Version 2 At some point even the youngest of us must stop for rest. Nathan crashed early this afternoon and got some waaaay-overdue shuteye. Now that it’s dark he’s back in Howard Johnson’s version of pit row, ready for another attempt. The Miners’ Formula SAE combustion team is pitching by loaning the DC crew one of their own EE experts, all with the goal helping their peers pass tech.

Formula electric has but one day to get through tech inspection before tackling Friday’s dynamic events

Before we get the local chamber of commerce folks up in arms, these hotels are just fine! Very reasonable rates, great staff, and lots and lots of parking spaces…

Showdown at the Michigan International Speedway

Missouri S&T’s Formula SAE team is sitting pretty going into tomorrow’s endurance race. Out of 108 international teams the Miners have placed in the top ten of three categories: 4th in skidpad, 6th in autocross, and a stunning 8th in business presentation by Brad Macias and Mason Auch. Only a late submittal penalty kept the Miners from being a design finalist. 20/20 on real case scenario and 20/20 on justifying cost on cost report.

FSAEskid15SUN_3568Their autocross ranking means they are the 6th fastest in the field, and as SAE saves the fastest cars for last, it’ll be defending champion Oregon State, Graz (Austria) Technical University, Akron, Florida, San Jose State and S&T to close out the event tomorrow afternoon.
Right now there’s no way to know the overall standings as the design scores haven’t been posted, but since some of the traditional power teams have faltered in a few off-track categories, finishing strong in the endurance race should have the Miners in the top ten overall, possibly the top five.

Could even be their “Best Ever.”