Ranch staff helps Aggie engineers win hybrid race car competition

“Texas A&M’s team was better prepared than any of their rivals and won the competition convincingly. They taught everyone a lesson in preparation, planning and hard work.”

— Gordon Kirby

Staff at the Texas A&M College of Architecture Digital Fabrication Facility, aka Architecture Ranch, helped engineering students build a hybrid race car that won first place in a contest at a NASCAR track in New Hampshire.

Chuck Tedrick, digital fabrication manager, and Kyle Reeder, digital fabrication specialist, used the ranch’s CNC mill to fabricate carbon fiber body panels for the car, which were designed on SolidWorks software by mechanical engineering students.

The car triumphed at the Formula Hybrid International Competition at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway May 1-4 2011 in Loudon, hosted by Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering. The competition tasked student teams representing universities around the world with designing, building and racing a hybrid car with an emphasis on drivetrain innovation and fuel efficiency.

Reeder and Tedrick met the challenge of transferring organic lines on the car’s design into molds for construction of its car’s nose cone and two side panels, which were needed to protect the car’s driver and improve its aerodynamics and appearance.

The CNC mill had no problem cutting the many sections of foam the design called for, said Reeder.

“The compound curves in the bodywork came out perfectly,” he said. “The body panels required less than half as much time to create than those in previous years’ entries.”

The Texas A&M car finished first in all four of the contest’s racing categories: electric-only acceleration, unrestricted acceleration, endurance and autocross, a timed competition where drivers race cars one at a time through a temporary course marked by traffic cones.

“Texas A&M’s team was better prepared than any of their rivals and won the competition convincingly,” said event blogger Gordon Kirby. “They taught everyone a lesson in preparation, planning and hard work.”

posted July 27, 2011