Tag Archives: chalmers formula student

IMG_1072

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.

cnc_chopper

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.

IMG_1088

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).

IMG_1078

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.

IMG_1025

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).

IMG_1135

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

IMG_1049

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?

IMG_1047

IMG_0651

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

IMG_1169

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.

IMG_1171

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.).

IMG_1170

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. 

IMG_1176

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!

IMG_1021

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!

IMG_1172

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

IMG_0798

swedishkeyboard

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

IMG_0176

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

IMG_0105

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

project timeplan

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.

DSC07241

[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.

DSC07249

DSC07147

Scandinavian Automotive Supplier Association @ Chalmers

Photo:

Motor Prince of Sweden, Prince Carl Philip, photographed with Chalmers Formula Student Engineers, (L to R) Nils Jansson, Project Manager Peter Eriksson, Prince Carl Philip, Håkan Richardson, Andreas Carlberger, Siddharth Kumaraswamy, and Yuvaraj Selvaraj

 

Chalmers Student Union is a great exhibition place. Earlier last month, the FKG, the Scandinavian Automotive Supplier Association, fair was held in the Volvo foyer at the Chalmers University of Technology Student Union building. The exhibition halls were crowded with visitors from a wide spectrum of areas in the automotive industry.

The Chalmers Formula Student (CFS) 2013 car was on display near the fair’s entrance. We received many curious visitors throughout the day. Motor Prince of Sweden, Prince Carl Philip, even stopped by to talk with the CFS engineers. Coincidentally, Anders Larsson, a CFS 2013 member and currently the race engineer for the Prince on the Polestar team, was nearby, and he was happy to see his teammate.

To give you a flavor of the Swedish automotive industries, I borrowed a few facts from the FKG.se website.

 

Preparation

[Photo: Communication/PR team member Therese von Hackwitz making final preparation prior to event.]

Quick facts:

  1. 110 000 Swedes are directly employed within the automotive industry.
  2. 500 000 job are generated indirectly by the automotive industry… (so, 0.5 million jobs for a population of 10 million = 5% of Swedes work with cars)
  3. 150 billion SEK exported by automotive industry (Total GDP about 3,300 billion SEK – CIA world fact book)

Take-home messages:

  1. The automotive industry is a solid backbone of the Swedish economy
  2. Chalmers have a lot of industry connection. I think KTH has more research connection. Nonetheless, Chalmers students have many opportunities to see the forefront of various engineering industries without leaving campus.

Tomorrow is the last day of the “Materials for Tomorrow 2014” expo. It is also happening at Chalmers Student Union.

 

I better go home and iron my shirt.

 

DSC07068

Everyone went to a presentation. So, I could actually walk around without spilling half of my coffee…