QUT Motorsport students have unveiled their latest Formula SAE-A electric race car, which will be put through its paces next month at an unofficial competition at Queensland Raceway.
The car has been named Lando in tribute to team member and mechanical engineering student Tom Hardyman, who passed away in April this year after a battle with osteosarcoma.
Tom, who was a team lead in vehicle dynamics and data collection, was a fan of McLaren and its Formula 1 driver Lando Norris.
‘Lando’ has been embroidered on the QUT car headrest, its design is inspired by the McLaren F1, its livery is McLaren orange and marked #RacingForTom, and its number plate is a mini version of Tom’s own ‘VRY NICE’ personal plate.
Teams from around Australia and overseas design, cost, and build a Formula-style open-wheeled racer. The initiative provides learning opportunities across a range of disciplines, including engineering, computer science, business, PR and marketing, as student teams must operate as a racing team would in the real world.
There are two competition classes: for cars with an internal combustion engine or electric propulsion. Since 2014, QUT students have competed in the electric vehicle class.
Due to COVID-19, the track component of the 2020 Formula SAE-A competition has been cancelled, but teams will still present their vehicles for technical inspection and design critique via videoconference and also make their usual design, cost and business plan presentations online to the judging panel from December 14 to 18.
Before that, the QUT, University of Queensland and Griffith University teams have organised a mini version of the competition to run from December 8 to 10, at which they’ll put forward their presentations and then hit the Queensland Raceway track.
“We have a judging panel of expert alumni from the three universities, and we’ll be doing the usual Formula SAE-A dynamic competition events,” said QUT team principal Luke McCallum, who’s studying a Bachelor of Business (Finance)/Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical).
“There’s four components – a test of the car’s acceleration, a timed lap of the track, a skid pad test to assess handling, and an endurance test over 20 laps.
“We’re really excited about this year’s car and also to be doing this for Tom. He was a big part of our motorsport team for two years.
“It’s been a huge effort from everyone to have met our deadlines in such a challenging year. We weren’t able to access our design lab for about three months and we’ve had to work hard to secure sponsorship. We’ve managed to substantially grow sponsorship and we are very thankful for our sponsors’ support. We wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without them.”
Thanks to the new partnership with LSM Advanced Composites, the team’s car has a carbon fibre monocoque design chassis – a first for a Queensland team in the electric vehicle class. As the students designed a low-voltage system, they were able to build every single electrical component of it themselves – another first. The car has been built to reach a top speed of 115 km/h and they’re hoping it can accelerate from zero to that speed in under four seconds.
Team academic supervisor and QUT senior lecturer in mechanical design and manufacturing Dr David Holmes said the students should be immensely proud of their achievements.
“They’ve worked very well together across the disciplines in a real-world model of a racing team,” he said.
“That they’ve been able to build and deliver a car better than any car before when suppliers, sponsors and the university were crippled by the pandemic is testament to what they are capable of.
“I know they have also been inspired to do this for Tom. He was such a positive force within the team, pushing through when he was sick. His contributions were invaluable.”