This year, we’re once again glad to be sponsoring the Formula Electric Belgium team: a project in which engineering students around the world compete to design, build, and ultimately race with the best electric race car. The prize? A cool trophy, but mostly lots of new knowledge and friendships!
The Formula Electric Belgium team, consisting of 48 students, is building its 13th car. What does the team look like, and how far along are they in building their car?
In this series, Remko (team manager), Wouter (electronics team), Simon (vehicle dynamics), Felix (vehicle dynamics), Karel (aerodynamics) and Ward (composites) talk about their experiences in the Formula Electric Belgium team!
First up: team manager Remko.
taking everything apart and putting it back together.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve always been interested in technology”, Remko starts. “I always tried to figure out how certain mechanical parts work. Let’s just say I’ve taken many machines apart to then try to put them back together (which may not always have worked)”, he laughs.
“That’s exactly the reason why I opted for the master of mechanical engineering: here, practical experience has priority over theoretical knowledge. The postgraduate diploma that I will receive by participating in Formula Electric, is the practical cherry on top. I am sure that I will have an advantage on the job market next year!”
first the vehicle dynamics team, now team manager.
Remko: “At Formula Electric, everyone can choose if they complete the trajectory in 1 or 2 years. I opted for 2 years, because this would give me the chance to take on a technical as well as a managerial role. This means I am combining the postgraduate studies with my master’s degree.”
“Last year, I was part of the vehicle dynamics team. I took on a technical role, which allowed me to get a good sense of what a year within Formula Electric looks like. During that year, I gained lots of practical engineering experience.”
“This year, I was elected team manager”, Remko continues. “My role is twofold: first of all, it’s my responsibility to make sure the team members have all the tools they need. I manage the planning, but also the financial picture. Furthermore, I need to guarantee a pleasant working environment. Secondly, I make sure the team works together like a well-oiled machine, and that we reach all our goals.”
“This is quite an abstract position. I am in charge of making the puzzle pieces fit, and getting each team member to optimally use their talents. Last year, I had to use all my technical skills, but this year I have to employ my soft skills!”
“A year in Formula Electric can be described as chaotic”, Remko laughs. “And it’s my job to maintain order in that chaos…”
“After the competitions of the previous year, we start off with an evaluation. We get together with the last team, and we discuss the pitfalls and points of improvement.”
“Once we have defined those, and we have found a way to fix them, we start with the design stage. This takes up the entire first semester.”
“Right now, we’re almost starting with the production stage, which is exciting! We have drawn up all the plans, and sent them to our partners. Once we receive the necessary parts, the assembly can begin… And afterwards, we can test our car for the first time: that’s what I’m looking forward to most! The feeling you get when you see the car for the first time, and hear the tires move over the asphalt… Indescribable!”
“Last year, we got to do more than just testing: we got to take our car to 3 competitions in the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Hungary. And we won some cool prizes. Speaking of a great performance! Fingers crossed that we can do that again this year.”
A year in Formula Electric can be described as chaotic, and it's my job to maintain order in that chaos.
master’s degree sometimes comes second.
Remko: “Apart from Formula Electric, I’m also trying to get my master’s degree. Which is… challenging. ;-)”
“The work at Formula Electric never ends. Plus, you work in a team that counts on your contribution. This makes the combination with my master’s degree quite intense. And at times when I have to prioritize, Formula Electric will always be priority number 1. We have 9 months to make sure we deliver that car - all the rest I can deal with later!”
“Luckily, I love a good challenge. I live on adrenaline. When I look back at what I’ve achieved in the past year and a half, I instantly get a boost of energy. And I’m sure I will eventually also get my master’s degree!”
Are you interested in the stories of the Formula Electric Belgium team? Keep an eye on our blog, because Remko definitely isn’t the only one who likes to share his experience with us!