The RPI Formula Hybrid Club hosted an event on August 26, to show the incoming freshmen how they build their model race cars. They spent time in the morning in the Ricketts Building shop working on the car. Later in the day, they went on a tour of the shop facilities available in Jonsson Engineering Center.
The freshmen taking part in this experience were excited about the fact that they had the opportunity to actually get their hands dirty and build the cars. One incoming freshman said that he was excited about the fact that he could “build a whole vehicle” as opposed to the many times students just “stand there and watch them talk about something.”
According to Ben Peacock ’16, one of the Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond event organizers, emphasized that what makes the Formula Hybrid Club unique from the other model building clubs is that the cars they build are powered by both electric motors and gasoline engines working in parallel to power the rear wheels. There is an emphasis on sustainable design because the gasoline engine size is limited to 250 cubic centimeters. The Formula SAE Club has a limit of 650cc for the gas engine of their cars, but gasoline is the only permissible source of power for that competition. This allows for the Formula Hybrid club to have a more powerful car than the Formula SAE club since there are no limits on the size of their electric motors.
During the shop tours, the upperclassmen members of the Formula Hybrid Club emphasized how everyone will have the opportunity to have a hands-on building experience. All the major parts of the car are fabricated in machine shops across campus. Peacock, said that the Formula Hybrid Club uses advanced fabrication techniques, such as water jet cutting, on a regular basis. All parts of the car are also student designed by using the 3-D computer-assisted drafting software Solidworks. It allows members to flesh out the rough prototyping without wasting valuable time and money working on the physical car.
Another point about the Formula Hybrid Club is completely student run. Peacock said that while the club has a formal faculty advisor in the School of Engineering, all of the work is done by students. In fact, Peacock emphasized that fact when he said, “if we weren’t here, we wouldn’t be going to competition.” The upperclassmen are the ones leading the team, and they need new members in order to keep the team. There is an opportunity for freshmen to get involved and make a real impact on the construction of the model car this year.
For more information about the club, visit https://formulahybrid.rpi.edu.