Oliver Slade joined HMK as a Graduate Engineer in September this year. Whilst completing his Masters in Mechatronic Engineering at Lancaster University Oliver took part in the prestigious Formula Student Competition.
Open to university students internationally, the competition aims to showcase and develop engineering students’ technical, practical, management and marketing skills.
Regarded as an invaluable educational exercise for engineers due to the amount of skills required thus increasing employability, the event’s patron is Mercedes GP Team principal Ross Brawn.
Held in July this year at the infamous Silverstone racetrack, a total of 107 cars from 34 different countries raced. The event aims to assess the following:-
Team’s knowledge and justification of the car’s design
Car’s compliance with Formula Student regulations whilst having a competitive edge
Proving of the car’s performance in the forms of acceleration, skid pad, sprint and endurance events around a unique, challenging track.
Sponsored by HMK, Oliver's personal role involved the following:-
Principle responsibility was the engine and ancillaries
Mounting the engines on a test bed to create a wiring loom and program the ECU
Extensive parameter optimisation of engine tuning using simulation software
Using optimised results and car layout to engineer a practical, high performance solution
CAD design of components with cost, performance and manufacturability in mind
Test driving the car to feedback the dynamics and ergonomic feel of the car from a driver’s point of view
Raced the car in the sprint and endurance event
Oliver comments “In the sprint, this was the first time the car had dry weather running as there was heavy rain for most of the day’s events. This was a true test of the car’s performance as it hadn’t been driven around a track nor had the testing at high speeds with the engine race tuned.
The fastest time got the team 28th position which was a fair result based on the lack of testing and running on new rubber reduced grip levels substantially.
The endurance event was the next day and whilst overcast, it stayed dry for the run. This was to be the first time the car had been driven to the limit for such an extended period, we didn’t know what to expect in terms of reliability. Once on the track with the tyres scrubbed in, the performance was much better than the sprint event and we were in contention for a good result.
The car was then pulled in by a marshall and I was asked to get out of the car. It turned out that the exhaust was literally on fire and this was later diagnosed to be retarded ignition timing. It was disappointing to get a DNF, but the overall event results and producing a competitive car from the drawing board was very rewarding for the whole team”.