Hundreds of the world’s top engineering students are preparing for one-of-a-kind Formula Hybrid Competition next week organised by Dartmouth University in the USA.
Teams are set to put to the test the earth-friendly hybrid and electric vehicles they designed and built over the last 10 months. They might not beat the Thrust SSC world record but they are certainly impressive.
This year’s 20 teams hail from Canada, India and across the U.S. Their eight hybrid and 12 electric vehicles will need to pass numerous technical and safety inspections in order to make it on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway track where the event will be held through May 2.
Many top engineering students engage in this technical competition because they want to collaborate with a team to build something highly complex and important not only to them but to the future of the world.
Participating in Formula Hybrid specifically is like a vote for a more sustainable future [..] When we design our car to perform well with sustainability in mind, it’s 1) educating the next generation of engineers to be prepared to work on hybrid and electric technology in the automotive industry, and 2) proving that electric and hybrid vehicles can perform as well as and better than traditional IC [internal combustion] cars. Annika Garbers, the chief mechanical engineer for the all-female Rochester Institute of Technology team Hot Wheelz
Similar to the Formula SAE competition, students compete in aspects of design, acceleration, handling, and endurance of their vehicle while abiding by rules that minimize risk and preserve students’ freedom to innovate. At Formula Hybrid, they also have to optimize energy efficiency and incorporate sustainable materials when building their vehicles.
“We are the only hybrid competition of its kind,” said Douglas Fraser, founder of Formula Hybrid and senior research engineer and laboratory instructor at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, which runs the event. “There are competitions that look a lot like ours, but those vehicles are gasoline powered or powered entirely by electric. We are the only competition that combines the two, with gasoline engine on one side and electric power on the other. Blending the output can be done any number of ways. Students have to work together and decide which system gets to do what. It’s pretty tricky.”
As a result, Formula Hybrid is the only competition that requires a unique collaboration between mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and computer scientists in the planning and building of their cars. Keep your eye peeled for the winners next week.