Electric motor FSAE car to make competitive debut at 16th Annual Texas Autocross Weekend July 8-10Battery powered
The familiar revving of student-designed and built FSAE racecars will be the norm at the 16th Annual Texas Autocross Weekend scheduled July 9-10 on The University of Texas at Arlington campus.
Teams from universities in the region are expected to race about 30 cars built to Formula Society of Automotive Engineers specifications and compete head-to-head for speed, handing and college bragging rights on Lot 49 east of South Cooper Street and south of Doug Russell Road.
But this year, the one engine you may not hear could be the fastest yet.
For the first time, one of the UTA competition cars will be an all-electric vehicle powered by four student-designed, in-wheel motors. As with other high performance electric cars, this car is capable of much better acceleration than a regular combustion car.
“We’re expecting this year to be a watershed year for our student racing teams because electric cars point to the future,” said Bob Woods, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and longtime adviser to UTA’s FSAE student racing team.
“If the course were a straightaway, the electric motor-equipped car would win. Electric motors can get to full torque at a very low speed. You don’t have the build-up you need in a gasoline-powered engine.”
Competition begins Saturday with a 9 a.m. drivers’ meeting at UTA's Lot 49. Entrants will run the traditional 1998 FSAE endurance course in the morning and an alternate course in the afternoon. The event is free and open to the public. Cars are timed by volunteers from the Texas Region of Sports Car Club of America.
Sunday’s schedule includes a more formal-style autocross event, also on Lot 49. A drivers meeting is at 9:30 a.m. with the first car running the course at 10 a.m.
The lineup is still being finalized, but the 2015 Texas Autocross featured 14 teams and 25 cars representing The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, University of Houston, University of North Texas, The University of Texas at San Antonio, University of New Mexico, University of Kansas, Auburn University, Oklahoma State University and others.
See a video of last year’s event here.
Erian Armanios, UTA chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, congratulated each of the collegiate teams and noted that the UTA FSAE racing program has produced generations of aerospace, mechanical, materials, electrical and systems engineers and a wealth of other graduates who know how to collaborate to meet a challenge.
“The autocross event has become a UTA tradition. It fuels Maverick ingenuity and research,” Armanios said. “Students from all disciplines of engineering and other students work together each year to design and build a new car from scratch using the best and most current technology available. The team not only applies what’s learned in the classroom but prepares these students to make meaningful contributions to the workforce. Indeed, UTA FSAE students don’t just simulate life, they live it.”
David Campbell is a UTA graduate student in aerospace engineering and the drivetrain engineer for this year’s electric car. He calls the FSAE experience “a spectacular supplement to the education you receive at UTA” and an opportunity to put into play what students learn in the classroom and laboratories.
“The program gives students a hands-on approach to engineering. Having to design a part or assembly to meet a stringent set of requirements, then manufacturing it and testing if it will work is extremely rewarding and valuable,” said Campbell, who earned his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering in 2015 and last year served as chief engineer for the FSAE team.
“The FSAE experience is the complete engineering cycle, it takes the theoretical to the practical. Plus, you learn so much more. You learn things like teamwork that you’ll need when you leave UTA.”
Woods, who has advised the UTA team for more than three decades, was honored in 2013 with the Society of Automotive Engineers’ “Excellence in Engineering Education” award. He concedes that while he has an affection for the sound of a revving combustion engine, he has pressed his students toward innovation in developing a competitive electric racecar.
“Everyone is interested in the electric cars: students, researchers, industry. It’s not only the future. It’s the present,” Woods said. “The new technology and where we’re going with it is exciting.”
The FSAE program is housed within the nationally ranked College of Engineering.
About The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is a Research-1 Carnegie “highest research activity” institution of more than 53,000 degree-seeking students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.