10. How Texas A&M won this year’s Formula Hybrid competition

Texas A&M before their acceleration run at the 5th annual Formula Hybrid International Competition

As I wrote at the start of last week’s blog, Texas A&M taught everyone a lesson in preparation, planning and hard work at this year’s Formula Hybrid International Competition at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Texas A&M’s team was better prepared than any of their rivals and won convincingly. The team’s faculty advisor, Dr. Make McDermott, believes Texas A&M benefitted from taking a conservative approach.

“I think it was because of the design process that we used,” McDermott observed. “A lot of people are looking at the Formula Hybrid competition as a research activity. They’re trying to come up with a lot of high-tech stuff and their criteria for making decisions early in the design process is based entirely on performance. Our early decision criteria are based on performance, cost and schedule. We throw out a lot of high-tech ideas because we decide we can’t get them done on the schedule we’ve got.” Continue reading ’10. How Texas A&M won this year’s Formula Hybrid competition’


9. Formula Hybrid’s evolving value

Texas A&M completes a test run at the 5th annual Formula Hybrid International Competition

Texas A&M’s winning team taught everyone a lesson in preparation, planning and hard work at last week’s 5th annual Formula Hybrid International Competition. Texas A&M arrived at New Hampshire Motor Speedway better prepared than any of their rivals and were the only team able to complete all phases of the competition.

Rated only seventh by the design judges and third in their marketing presentation, Texas A&M were the only team to complete both parts of the acceleration test, won the timed autocross event and finished a close second in the concluding endurance test. Dr. Make McDermott’s team accumulated 871.24 points, soundly beating Brigham Young University (712.04 points) and Sweden’s Lund University (691.6). UC Davis finished a competitive fourth (680.49 pts), trailed by Dartmouth (381.62) and McGill (325.24) in fifth and sixth. Continue reading ‘9. Formula Hybrid’s evolving value’

8. Texas A&M’s Make McDermott on Formula Hybrid’s contributions

Suddenly the competition is upon us. The sixth annual Formula Hybrid International Competition takes place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway starting on Sunday, May 1st through Wednesday, May 4th. Chrysler and Ford have joined General Motors and Toyota as sponsors of this year’s event and new teams are expected from Sweden and Taiwan. The Taiwanese team was prevented from competing last year by customs delays. All of us hope they arrive without problems this year so we can welcome them to the four-day contest.

Texas A&M has competed in Formula Hybrid the past two years following ten years in Formula SAE. Texas A&M’s team advisor is Make McDermott who led the team during its Formula SAE days and serves these days on Formula Hybrid’s rules committee. McDermott earned his degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Texas in Austin, and then worked in spacecraft guidance and controls for NASA for four years. He joined Texas A&M’s engineering department in 1973 and has been there to this day. Continue reading ‘8. Texas A&M’s Make McDermott on Formula Hybrid’s contributions’

7. Rob Wills on the future of hybrid and electric cars

In my last blog Rob Wills, the chair of Formula Hybrid’s electrical rules committee, discussed his extensive background in the Tour de Sol and Formula Hybrid. Wills looks forward to the development of the ultimate hybrid vehicle and declared his hopes of seeing more emphasis placed on the performance characteristics of the cars competing in Formula Hybrid. This week Wills looks ahead to where Formula Hybrid and hybrid and electrical vehicles as a whole may be heading.

“What are the goals we’re trying to achieve with Formula Hybrid?” Wills asks. “I think the first thing is that the ultimate hybrid hasn’t been built, either in Formula Hybrid or in commercial vehicles. Continue reading ‘7. Rob Wills on the future of hybrid and electric cars’

6. Rob Wills explains his perspective

Rob Wills is chairman of Formula Hybrid’s electrical rules committee. Wills grew up in Melbourne, Australia and went to Melbourne University where he studied electrical engineering. He did a stint in Antarctica as an instrumentation engineer then came to the United States to work at a government laboratory known as Cold Regions Research and Engineering in Lyme, NH near Dartmouth. Today Wills is chief technical officer for CitizenRe, a San Diego-based energy company that rents solar panels on a longterm basis.

“All through grad school I’d been putting solar panels on people’s roofs to make some extra money and I ended up doing it professionally,” Wills remarks. “I’ve been doing that for thirty years.” Continue reading ‘6. Rob Wills explains his perspective’

5. Data gathering, telemetry and driving

In major league motor racing — Formula One, Le Mans sports cars and Indy cars — the top teams spend millions of dollars each year on data gathering and telemetry. Real-time data is transmitted from race venues to team headquarters half a world away. This enables the team’s engineers to work endlessly on improving and developing their cars.

Formula Hybrid teams pursue the same goals but for infinitely less cost. In this way, it’s an excellent lesson in efficiency. Adam Marano is the leader of Dartmouth’s Formula Hybrid data gathering and telemetry team and his team designed and built their system for a fraction of the cost lavished on these items by professional race teams. Continue reading ‘5. Data gathering, telemetry and driving’

4. Dartmouth’s Formula Hybrid design strategy

Last week I introduced you to Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering Formula Hybrid team and discussed the lessons the program teaches about teamwork. This week we take a look at the team’s design strategy for their car which carries the number 007 because the team finished seventh in last year’s fourth annual Formula Hybrid competition. They call their little black machine ‘Moneypenny’.

Dartmouth’s car is a parallel hybrid drivetrain design. It’s powered by a 250cc Honda CRF250X moto-cross engine which makes 27 hp at 10,500 rpm plus an HPGC AC-15 electric motor in parallel which produces 43 hp. The team has moved this year from a carbureted gasoline engine to a more modern unit with electronic fuel injection. Electrical power is accumulated in a package of 40 Maxwell ultra capacitors. “Our whole strategy,” commented team leader Eric Mann, “is limiting the size of our accumulators and having fast-in and fast-out energy.” Continue reading ‘4. Dartmouth’s Formula Hybrid design strategy’