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!
This time, we talked to 2 extremely motivated members of the composites team: Karel and Ward. They jokingly describe Formula Electric Belgium as a fool’s errand. Why did they decide to enroll in this postgraduate program? Being able to build their own race car, and the competition at the end of the year!
the composites team.
Karel graduated as a mechanical engineer and now works in the aerodynamics department of the composites team. Ward has a degree as an industrial engineer, and is head of the composites team.
The composites team is divided into 2 departments. In the aerodynamics department, the team members focus on the front wing and the rear wing of the car. There is also the monocoque department, in which the chassis of the car is fine-tuned.
I didn’t have any experience in race cars, but by working in this team, I learned so many new things in such a short time.
practical experience in the real world.
The biggest difference between their master’s degree and the Formula Electric postgraduate program? The practical experience and the deadlines. “We have 1 year to build an entire car. That’s not a lot of time. My previous studies definitely haven’t prepared me for a situation like this”, Karel tells us. “The choices we make, for the design of the car for example, have a real impact on the project. That doesn’t really happen in the academic world.”
In a few months, the composites team will start their biggest challenge: laminating the monocoque. At that point, they will need all the help they can get. Transfers to their partner in Charleroi, long shifts, lots of pressure … and so on. Ward: “But after such an intense period, it will be even more rewarding to see the progress we have made!”
second semester = tangible progress.
Karel: “Up until now, we have mostly made designs from behind our desks. That’s also cool, but this semester the real work will begin. All the pieces of the puzzle should fall into place now. That’s stressful, but also very rewarding.”
“True”, Ward goes on. “I’m already looking forward to seeing the monocoque for the first time during production!”
It’s a bit of a fool’s errand, but also fascinating. We have to invest lots of time, but it’s truly a unique experience.
“Something I’m quite proud of, is our design”, says Karel. “In the aerodynamics team, we’ve decided to make things a little less complex, so we could focus on the reliability of the car. Right now, our goal is to make sure the car is simple, but functions perfectly.”
just do it!
Are you an engineering student, and would you like to participate in Formula Electric Belgium, but are you still a bit hesitant? Karel and Ward couldn’t agree more: you should just do it. The experience you’ll gain during this project will definitely give you an advantage on the job market. And you’ll work in a tight-knit team, making friends for life.
Would you like to know what else Karel and Ward had to say? Watch the complete interview!