Tag Archives: automotive engineering

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Bonjourno, Sweden!

Milan, 26C, partially cloudy

Bongiorno!

I have a motto for life – “the more I move, the luckier I get”. Perhaps I become a more interesting person, or maybe I become more open minded.

Several Master’s programmes at Chalmers have double degree exchange deal with Stuttgart University and Shanghai JiaoTong University. I thought how cool would it be to spend the second year of my Master’s in Germany (drinking beer and eating bratwürst)… especially for an Automotive Engineering student at Stuttgart.

 

But I turned down this opportunity… for several reasons.

1/ The Swedes, young and old, speak English near native level… it is easy to forget that I am studying in Europe.  You might not be able to say the same about all German professors. Was ist das?

2/ The Swedes are pretty open to immigrants… the Swedes are generally open to different cultures, religions, sexual orientations, etc. I don’t feel like an alien in Sweden!

 

Third, my mother told me to stay in Sweden.

 

4/ I changed my mind. I am satisfied with Chalmers education. “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?”

5/ I met a girl from Italy at Chalmers… Life is full of unexpected surprises. I tried to find an internship position, but failed. When I devoted my life to the machine shop, this happens.

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I spent the weekend in Milan with her majesty Eva. I also managed to catch up with Camilla, a Polytechnic Uni. of Milan exchange student I met in Canada. What a beautiful city. Why would anyone leave Italy for Sweden?!! The Milanese explained the education in Italy is much more “theoretical”, whereas Sweden focuses more on the “practical” aspect.

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Eva is striking luck up here in Sweden. She managed to settle a one-year biomedical engineering master’s thesis project at a local artificial limb company. I think her “receipt for success” is her über proactive approach to opportunities.

After taking lessons from her, I managed to grab a part-time lab technician position at the Chalmers combustion dept. starting in September. Looking forward!

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Midsummer at IKEAtemporary exhibition in Milan

 

I am rather sad leaving the summery Milan, even though I had a year’s worth of mosquito bites in just one weekend.

 

Greatest life lesson – ALWAYS remember to bring mosquito repellent!

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“the further north I move, the luckier I get!”… back to the wonderful Swedish summer!

 

Lövvvv,

 

gimmygöteborg

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Chalmers: Vehicle Dynamics

“A good car is not just a fast car… it is the one that goes the fastest around a corner.”  Praise Vehicle Dynamics!

Side note:

Chalmers has a lot of collaboration with industry on vehicle dynamics/autonomous driving. Chalmers also has a partnership with Stanford working on that autonomous Pike’s peak Audi TT. Super cool stuff! Professor Mathias Lidberg is the Chalmers man in charge.

Side note #2:

Colloquial: “Chalmers profs are super chill”. Professor Lidberg (well, we address him as Mathias) gave me a nickname “GoPro”, because I helped him with his GoPro video camera. Yep, he is also a fan of GoPro video camera. What a cool prof!

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Back to Vehicle Dynamics:

Sure, this course was quite challenging and somewhat essential to Automotive Engineering. The course studied basic vehicle-handling characteristics. What is …handling?

Motivation: have you ever sat in the back of a crappy minivan? If you have, then you might have some good clues why they are nicknamed “vomit comets”. When you come to a stop and your car is still wobbling up and down seconds after, it probably means you are driving a crappy car.

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How do we fix that?

The short answer is to study the car’s suspension geometry, springs and dampers – so they work with the rest of the car together in harmony.

We started modelling vehicles as a “bicycle” (if you think about it, cars are nothing but two bikes)… and we didn’t really go beyond the bicycle model either, because the model is so robust.

There was a lot of mathematics in this course. I had to dust off my Laplace transformation equations. Ok, I won’t go into the details about this course, as it will give me headaches. But here are some interesting thoughts…

1/ The Swedes here löv using LaTex for writing reports. And Yes, it looks super crisp!

2/ I mentioned that the Chalmers students are very proficient with Matlab. It is incredible how good they are! I still have a lot to catch up to them. Matlab is a handy tool to perform operations on large sets of data. Learn it before coming to Sweden.

3/ I described a study visit to the AstaZero test track. AstaZero is the world’s prime test ground for vehicle traffic safety. We were there to perform a few driving maneuverers, capture data, and…finally go home and analyse it. According to the data analysis, I am a jerky driver. Meh…

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I really enjoyed the course, as it was challenging, it had a mixture of theory and practically, and it had a very interesting hands-on lab project on the test track.

… but that exam was a little (too) difficult.

 

Så, exam season is upcoming. In fact I have an exam on Monday. Meanwhile, spring is in full swing. I am sitting on the grass, writing this blog…. Ummmm the grass isn’t completely dry…g2g!

 

Löv,

 

gimmygöteborg

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Ref:

Photos extracted from “Course compendium for MMF062”

This compendium also available as pdf file at

http://pingpong.chalmers.se/public/courseId/4042/lang-en/publicPage.do. © Copyright: Bengt Jacobson, Chalmers University of Technology

 

Below: my bike, beautiful in terms of vehicle dynamics in design.

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CNC machine, max. feed, 5000 rpm, no big deal

I mentioned Chalmers workshop last time. Today, I’ll say a few words about students that are running wild in the CNC workshop.

(photo: I am learning how to write G-Code on the CNC lathe machines)

Yes, students operating CNC machines. CNC stands for Computer Numeric Control. You are probably not so impressed, if you have no idea about CNC machines.

  1. They are freaking expensive (an inexpensive HAAS lathe costs about half a million SEK, or $100,000 USD)
  2. They aren’t easy to operate (people go through three years of college training)
  3. It is really easy to screw up the machine (if you clash two moving components, you will hear the loudest bang in your life…and then your wallet shrinks into a black hole)
  4. A nice Sandvik Coromant carbide tool cost 10,000 SEK, and it breaks easily when misused.

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Photo: a typical CNC milling machine. 

Ok, the students are not running “wild” in the “irresponsible” sense. They are operating the machine at its performance ceilings (meaning the machinists know what they are doing). IMG_1149

Photo: Niklas & Marcus on the CNC lathe.

I have never seen & heard a lathe running at 5000 revolutions per second. It sounds like an aircraft engine. Not exaggerating.

Of course, not anyone is allowed to fool around with these machines. The Chalmers Formula Student (CFS) machinists operating these CNC machines are extremely talented.

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Photo: Göran from Sandvik Coromant visiting the CFS team and showing Victor how to realise a tool’s full capability.

Let me list a few:

  • Isak from CFS 2014: he is probably born inside a CNC machine. Even the engineer at Sandvik Coromant (a Swedish tooling manufacturer) is impressed by his knowledge and ability.
  • Johannes from CFS 2015: he is probably born with a welding gun in his hand. After seeing him laying down a perfect bead of aluminium weld, he goes into the CNC lab and mills out quite complex geometries.
  • Niklas from CFS 2014 is a man of the north. He is from Umeå, where the SI bloggers visited last year. He is so familiar with the CNC lathe that the machine shop head comes to him with questions. (The flat hierarchy in Sweden also means the student-teacher relationship is quite sincere).

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Photo: Johannes tooling around the CNC mill

Lately, Niklas is investing a lot of his free time to teach CNC lathe to Marcus and I.

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Photo: Carefully running the program in “single block” mode, baby steps, one block at a time.

I can’t fly on my own yet. I don’t think I will have time to practice enough on the CNC lathe to earn my “license”. Nonetheless, I feel quite privileged to touch the CNC machine and rev it up to 5000 RPM (under Niklas’ presence).

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Photo: Trying to understand which tool goes where and does what…

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Photo: Taking baby-steps, learning each tool and figuring out its “cutting position”. It’s not a selfie. I couldn’t determine the position of the tool that is oriented upside down…. position 3, matching?

Ok, back to the workshop.

 

Löv,

 

gimmygöteborg

 

somebody is in charge of 3D printing… was it you Josue?

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Chalmers trust his students so much, it’s almost Stupid!

“If your father just bought a €200,000 Ferrari, would he let your 15-year-old brother drive it? Chalmers would.”

(photo: Josue from Ecuador waiting for auto-feed to complete a pass)

1 March 2015, Gothenburg, Light intermittent Snow, 2 degrees C

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After breaking another personal record, 15 hours of continuous sleeping, I feel my mind and senses have been recalibrated again. IMG_1061

I have been busy at the machine shop lately.

Today I wanted to say a few good words about Chalmers’ machine shop resources and this “CDIO” thing.

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It’s not a massive machine shop… smaller than U of Waterloo shop. But it does the trick!

Chalmers is in the vanguard of CDIO development back in the late 90s and early 2000s. It is spread worldwide now. CDIO stands for Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate. It is an engineering teaching philosophy that is aimed at increasing graduate engineer’s “competency”. (I am not saying engineer graduates are useless, but I have met graduates that don’t know how to use a wrench…).

In short, most engineering schools focus on theoretical part of “Conceive” and “Design”, but overlook “Implement” and “Operate” part. But under CDIO, students must be responsible for the “manufacturing” and “functionally” of their design. (In other words, you earn your marks by designing something and then proving your design physically works).

BUT there is a catch. In order to realize the “Implement” and “Operate” in CDIO philosophy, the school has to provide the necessary manufacturing resources. If you are not familiar with mechanical engineering equipment, they are EXTREMLY expensive (to purchase, to maintain, etc.).

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Chalmers wood workshop

Not many schools in the world have such student machine shop resources. While studying at U of Waterloo, I remember a fellow U of Calgary comrade “drooling” over the Waterloo machine shop. Apparently at U of Calgary, they have a few primitive handheld tools. Waterloo has a great workshop, I am very proud of it.

 

But my concern with the Waterloo machine shop is not all students receive the necessary training.

00        School blindly trust students’ “common sense”

10        Students (often unintentionally) mess up the machines

30        Many “fancier” machines are off-limit to students.

40        The machine shop closes at 9PM and reopens at 8AM. Opening hours are even shorter on weekends.

50        School trust the student less.

60        Go to “00”

 

Chalmers machine shop is run very differently. 

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The students have to earn their “driving licenses” by proving their capabilities (both theoretical, but also his or her “maturity and responsibility”). The entire process reminds me of going through driving school. Finally, once you have earned your “credibility”, you can work without supervision after hours (1700-2400).

INSANE! So much trust invested in us!

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Yes, there is a lot of theory behind machining! Machining isn’t just “muscle” work.

Så, I was playing around with the TIG welding machine in the machine shop the other day. It was quite possibly the happiest moment in January. It is fantastic that the school’s machine shop has two TIG machines (one for aluminium welding and one for steel welding) and a MIG welding machine for students to “play around” with!

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Welding room

As I was exclaiming how “trusting” Chalmers is to let me “monkey” around with fancy welders, Johannes slams my praise “oh this is nothing. The school let us play with expensive CNC machines…” (Johannes is our “Design Expert” on the Chalmers Formula Student (CFS) team. He is a very talented guy. I’ll write about him and other gods from CFS next time.)

 

True. Johannes is right. It’s no big deal. If welding machines are comparable to “brand new BMWs”, then those CNC machines are like “Lamborghinis”.

I’ll write about those CNC machines the next time.

 

Back to the workshop!

 

Löv,

gimmygöteborg

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Swedish students and their spelling mistakes

I have praised the Swedish students in the past about their wonderful English. When it comes to report writing, the written professional English is (sometime) a nightmare.

I have been warned by a fellow Canadian during the first few weeks after I arrived “don’t proofread their reports, because it doesn’t matter”. I can understand the warning. After the young Swedes earn their bachelor degree, the master’s education switches to English. The students are new to English writing. It is difficult to write well even for native English speakers.

I had the opportunity to proofread some writings at Chalmers Formula Student for external communication purposes. Man! I’ve seen some serious typos.

The Swedish students write with a “Swedish keyboard” setting. This prevents Microsoft from performing automatic spellcheck. When you open a document, your heart stops beating for a moment, as all you see are “red” squiggles. Then YOU change the language setting in Word to English. You face-palm and start with corrections. “S” and “Z” are often mixed up. Swedish language tends to staple a few words together into one long word. This is a very common English spelling mistake.

Then what did my fellow Canuck mean by “it doesn’t matter”?

I randomly opened a formal Chalmers publication. I opened three pages and I spotted three spelling mistakes. I was quite disappointed to be honest. But maybe typos are not as sinful as it is in an English speaking country? Perhaps people care about the content more than formality?

A typo is a typo. That’s my view.

I really cannot blame the Swedish guys as English is not their mother tongue.

But for non-native English speakers, they are probably still the word’s second best… well, that’s controversial. We can’t forget about Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands. They speak well too!

 

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Pro Tip:

If you want to change your keyboard setting to e.g. English (UK) while still being able to use “äöå”, add an English keyboard with Swedish configuration:

keyboard

I also have a “Greek” keyboard to write engineering equations.

If you want to change your decimal point from “, – comma” into “. – period”, follow the instructions below.

 

point0 point1 point2

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Panoramic Sundays: a day in the life of Gimmy

Wow, January is 80% finished!

It has been a little busy weeks for me lately. Exam… then a few tasks at Chalmers Formula Student. It has been all about survival, one day at a time.

Ok, I will walk you through a fictitious day in my life.

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0700 – wake up and perform my morning rituals

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0800 – supermarket opens up, getting the week’s food shopping done.IMG_0241IMG_0166

0900 – finally getting brighter outsideIMG_0187

1000 – return home and sort through recyclingIMG_0112

1030 – study for a bit in the Chalmers Library IMG_0110

1155 – Lunch at the student unionIMG_0198IMG_0115

1300 – LectureIMG_0121

1700 – Chalmers Formula Student briefingIMG_0229

1800 – Chalmers Formula Student Design Final PresentationIMG_0176

2200 – MT0 computer lab doing some Chalmer Formula Student workIMG_0116

2345 – if I am lucky, I get to have fast food at some burger place.IMG_0136

 

Somewhere between 0000 and 0100 I am light out, getting ready to repeat the next day.

 

löv,

gimmygöteborg