Design Phase Planning @ Chalmers Formula Student
The Chalmers Formula Student (CFS) 2015 electric racecar detailed design phase started on 22 October. The design “lock down” is in six weeks. This is getting super exciting (and stressful for the designers). Six weeks might sound roomy for a deadline. To add some perspectives, every CFS engineers practically have to compress three year’s work done by a team of engineers into six weeks.
Before this, the team has already spent six weeks for the “Pre Study Phase”. During this period, various subgroups are formed from new recruitments. Each subgroup is responsible for one system on the car. The members, who have little knowledge about the system, have to develop a working understanding of the system (i.e. how does it work, benchmarking previous year’s design against other team’s design, etc.), come up with a revolutionary concept, then shoot it down and produce a simple yet reliable solution proposal.
[Photo: CFS Engineer Simon Hermansson and Yuvaraj Selvam presenting their concept]
At the Design Planning evening, the subgroups were each given a stack of Post-its. On the note, designers’ specified deliverable required from other subgroups, and then posted it onto a large calendar-form whiteboard. Each deadline is discussed between interfacing subgroups. At the end of the lengthy and meticulous process, the communication group organized deliverable into a comprehensive Gantt chart. The motivation for this exercise is to facilitate clear understanding in relationship between deadlines. It is super critical that everyone on the team act as owners of the project. Everyone needs to take the initiatives to manage and push the project towards completion.
The team hit a speed bump during exam week. Main computer rooms on campus were locked down for “examination” uses. People were anxious to get back in to crank some design work over the past weekend.
Detailed design will be more difficult this year compared to previous years, as we have limited knowledge in building electric vehicles. There are lots of uncertainties. Yet, unless you risk something, the team stands still.