Tag Archives: Formula Student

We won the electric class of Formula Student Netherlands!

Best Electric Car in Formula Student Netherlands!

After a magnificent performance from everyone in the team in all the dynamic and static events, we won first place in the electric car class in the first edition of Formula Student Netherlands, picking up 2nd place in design, acceleration, skidpad, autocross and endurance as well as 1st place in the cost & manufacturing event with an epic performance from everyone in the cost subgroup.

For most of you, Formula Student is something unknown. You can read a post about the competition itself and about the project lifecycle of Chalmers Formula Student in here.

Now, let me walk you through the entire competition.

Arriving to the TT-Circuit in Assen.

940km, 2 ferries and a long Monopoly game (still the best way to survive a long trip, lesson learned from my Lapland trip) later, we arrived at the TT-Circuit, “The Cathedral of Speed”, in Assen. We built the camp and the kitchen tent before heading to town to have dinner.

The day after, everyone gathered in the main hall for the inauguration of the event, where the organizers gave a few words. Afterwards, the pit lane was open and everyone started building their own pit which contain the tools and everything needed to take care of any potential issue, do a set-up, prepare for scrutineering, replace a part or to fix the car if needed.

Business Plan Presentation, Design, and Cost & Manufacturing Events.

Not everything is about racing cars. A big part of the competition is about the static events. First static in our to do list was: the Business Plan Presentation, where every team develops and deliver a comprehensive business model about their product – a prototype race car – and how it could become a rewarding business opportunity for the judges (“potential investors”); this is where teams get creative in their business models and presentations.

Furthermore, in the Cost and Manufacturing Event every team needs to be able to show their understanding of the manufacturing processes and costs associated with their race car. This includes trade off decisions between content and cost, make or buy decisions and understanding the differences between prototype and mass production. A hard copy of all the parts, all the processes and basically everything that is needed to build a race car needs to be presented!


Last but not least.  The Engineering Design Event aims to evaluate the team’s ability to explain the engineering processes and effort that went into the design phase; this is where we explain different judges the concepts and technologies implemented, and prove why the chosen design is the best one for our purpose. One of our cornerstones in CFS is to take data driven decisions, and this is where we show all the data that lead to the design of choice.

Acceleration, Skidpad and Autocross.

There is nothing like the smell of rubber on tarmac in the morning. The excitement was the lead character in this magnificent play, where 40 teams were ready to go full throttle.

We were the first ones in queue for the Skidpad event, were the point of the event is to assess the cornering ability of the car under wet circumstances. Long story short, each team has 4 runs, and in each run the driver will do two right-hand complete circles and two left-hand ones, the fastest wins.

After completing Skidpad, Viktor (team member from aerodynamics, pool party enthusiast, Swedish and a very good friend) and I headed back to the camp since it was our turn to cook for everyone! Everyone else made their way to the main straight of the circuit where the Acceleration event was taking place.

Like the name suggests it, the point of this event is to assess the acceleration of the race cars, every team has 4 runs in a 75m long straight, this time our car came second, being our fastest time 3.347s.

4 great runs in acceleration later, everyone headed towards the track where the Autocross event was taking place. This is where we “race” our cars in a more real-life environment. Each team has 4 runs in the track, where like any other race the one with the fastest lap wins. This time our team came 4th with a difference of 1.591s between our time and the winning lap.


If the nervousness was not enough, the difference in points between the 1st place and the 4th was minimum. It was all or nothing in the final event of the competition, the most challenging one, the Endurance Event.

This is where only a handful of cars finish, the objective of this event is to push to the limit during 22km, every team needs to be able to run their race car for 22km as fast as possible without running out of fuel or battery charge, without any mechanical failure, without the car suddenly stopping. There is no room for mistake. I gotta say that everyone in my team had 3 heart attacks probably because the car stopped, but luckily the drivers could restart without any external help.

Seeing the car running through the finish line while the chequered flag was waving is a feeling that only a few get to experience, it was amazing. We were 2nd fastest, just right after TU Valencia (the overall winners and the winners in the combustion class as well).

TU Valencia and Chalmers Formula Student.

At the end, we took home the 1st place in the electric class, 2nd place overall (combustion + electric), 2nd place in design, 2nd place in acceleration, 2nd place in skidpad, 1st place in cost & manufacturing and 2nd place in endurance. 7 trophies in total in our first competition of the season!

Formula Student Germany is just around the corner, so we need to improve upon our success to achieve a good result in what is the most challenging competition in the Formula Student season.


Chalmers Formula Student 2017

Over the past 9 months I’ve experienced a lot of new adventures (I’ve written about a few of them in here), and I’ve faced a lot of new challenges. But no challenge is as big as Chalmers Formula Student; designing, building and testing a car in only 11 months is very ambitious and demanding. A few months ago I wrote about Formula Student, the project and the outline of the competition; what is it about? why is it so big? and a little bit about Chalmers Formula Student 2017 (CFS17).

Now it is time to write about Chalmers Formula Student 2017.

Chalmers Formula Student 2017

Let’s start from the beginning. One of the cornerstones of CFS is not only to build a highly competitive car, but also to form skilled engineers. This is why at the beginning of every academic year a completely new team is assembled.

During the first weeks, the idea is to define a common goal and assign responsibilities as well as start planning for the months to come.

This year our goal is:

“By working as a team, CFS17 will design and build a high performance 2WD electric car with key components that are compatible with a 4WD concept. The car should run latest May 1st, 2017, weight less than 180kg and have tested and verified subsystems. As a result, the team will finish top 10 in all events and top 5 overall in FSN and FSG 2017.”

Once the goal was defined it was time to move on into investigating new solutions, this stage of the project is about reading reports from previous years and considering new technologies that can be implemented into the new model to improve upon last year’s model.

Sounds pretty much straight forward, but trust me, there are thousands of things and small details to consider, even the simplest change can have a huge impact.

Designing a car

After a couple of weeks of investigating new solutions and, developing together as a team a concept, we move on into the actual design, where we use CAD (Computer Aided Design, specifically CATIA; fun fact about CATIA…it hates me) to design and model the parts and assemblies that at the end come together to build a car.

This part of the project was a little bit hectic, probably everyone in the team pulled an all-nighter at least once by now, but for me the design part was very hectic and stressful. Specially because I was taking 2 courses (Vehicle Dynamics and Vehicle and Traffic Safety) at the same time while doing CFS.

The winter break was close but we had to lock down our design before taking a small time off, this means that everyone needed to be done with the parts they were designing to have a complete car assembly.

Building a car

Building a car in sounds much easier that it is. Manufacturing every single part in the way they are designed is quite challenging, and at the end this is the stage of the project when you realize that there are parts that look rather simple in the computer but they are a pain to manufacture.

At the end, no matter all the small issues during the process, we built a very beautiful car (still needs to be tested in the track but probably it will perform very good), and the important part is that everyone in the team worked so hard to achieve this. So, I want to raise my imaginary beer right now and just say, cheers to everyone in CFS!

*drumroll to create suspense* and this is how our car looks like! Hope you guys like it!


We will be now preparing and tuning our car until the very last day before the competition, which is taking place in the TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands (FSN), from the 17th – 20th of July and in the Hockenheimring in Germany (FSG) from the 8th – 13th of August.

I’m really looking forward for the competitions and I hope that CFS wins both in FSN and FSG!


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


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.


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.).


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. 


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!


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!


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!





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


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.




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.