Tag Archives: chalmers formula student

CFS16 during endurance test in FSG 2016

THE ultimate engineering competition.

A few months ago, it never crossed my mind to be involved in a project as big as Formula Student, and if we go even further it never crossed my mind being in Sweden, and you know what, that is exactly what I like about decision making, ultimately every single decision will take you one step closer to a new adventure.

First things first, what is Formula Student? And why is it so big? If I had to explain Formula Student (Formula SAE) as simple as possible the only thing that comes to my mind is: THE most challenging engineering competition in the student environment.

CFS16 during Formula Student Germany ©


Formula Student

In my dictionary, engineering means developing and pushing an idea to the limit defined by science (the fun part is when you go over the limit). Now, let’s move on to the question what is Formula Student? Well, Formula Student is the world largest engineering competition at student level, just to give you an example; 249 teams from all over the world participated in registration to take a place in the event held in Germany!

Basically, each university team designs, builds, tests and present their concept of a single seat, open wheel formula racecar. The competition is not won by the team with the fastest car, but rather by the team with the best overall package of construction, performance, and financial and sales planning. The car is assessed through different events, both static and dynamic.To test the performance of the car, dynamic events like acceleration, skidpad and endurance take place during competition. Car is also judge in design, cost and in business planning.

I mentioned that the competition is in Germany previously, but the competition is not exclusively held in Germany. There are 10 different competitions around the world: Michigan, 2 events in Nebraska, Australia, Brazil, Italy, United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, and finally Japan. Germany being the most challenging and competitive one.

Formula Student involves a tremendous amount of effort from everyone in the team, it’s a project that extends for over a year, since the formation of the team until the last day of competition. Moreover, Formula Student it’s not just building a car, it is one of the best ways of getting experience.

 

CFS16 during Formula Student Germany ©

CFS16 during Formula Student Germany ©


Chalmers Formula Student

This year I have the fortune of being part of the Chalmers Formula Student (CFS17) Team, one of the top teams in the world (the best team in the world according to me but this is just me not being objective). Chalmers has performed quite good over the past years, just last year CFS16 ended up in the 6th place in UK; 2012, CFS12 won the competition in the UK; in 2014, CFS14 got the 3rd place in Germany, but this are only some of the results that Chalmers has achieved over the years.

I joined CFS without knowing what I was about to do, without knowing the amount of time that I would put into a single project, without knowing the number of things that I would learn just by looking at what previous years have done. So far, it’s been quite challenging.

I am part of the Aerodynamics and Exterior Design subgroup, where I work with 2 more team mates adding wings into the car…I know it sounds crazy but trust me, wings are good for race cars. You can expect a post later regarding aerodynamics, right now I don’t want to bore you with engineering facts.

To give you some context, the team consists of about 30 engineers, from different nationalities, everyone with a different background and from different academic programs. This is, in my opinion, one of our best advantages.


Right now we are building the car, every single component from the new complety re-design motors to the carbon fiber rims. CFS latest model will be running 1st of May (or at least that is the plan)

Stay tuned for the upcoming updates on Formula Student, I’m sure I will write again about it!


#AndresInGöteborg

 

 

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!

 

DCIM106GOPRO
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

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.

%

%

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

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.

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[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.

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