Hybrid car competitions are not a new sensation, although they are still unusual. This week’s Formula Hybrid International Competition, which is happening in Loudon, N.H., is really a showcase for student engineers, who race the cars they designed and built. It is heavily-attended by recruiters form the automotive industry.
Showing off some engineering
There were college students from six nations that got together and produced these automobiles. They will not make the normal fan sounds, but Nascar fans do not have to be disappointed. They still have high-end technology and some of the very best fuel-efficiency.
Forty different teams descended on Loudon early this week for the competition, which started Monday and wraps up today, May 3.
The competition, which has been held annual since 2006, is the development of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth University, which prides itself on its innovative methods. The school emphasizes three areas of engineering: medicine, energy technologies and complex systems. According to the hybrid competition’s web page, “These areas crosscut traditional engineering disciplines and address critical human needs.”
Events to see
Since the competition is mainly about preparing eager young engineers for careers, one of the challenges each team has to face is making a mock-pitch to potential investors. Other events test the automobiles in several aspects of engineering, such as acceleration, braking and handling.
The main event of the week, however, and the victory coveted by all involved, is Thursday’s endurance race. For that function, each car gets equal stores of energy. Cars with more battery power receive less gasoline than do those with smaller electrical storage capacity. The winner of the event is the fastest car that does not run out of juice before the end.
According to Formula Hybrid International Competition coordinator Doug Fraser:
“If they finish with a lot of fuel left in their tank … they’ve wasted it, because they could have used it to go a little faster.”
Fraser spoke about the Italian team that won in 20110, saying:
“When they came in from the end of the endurance event, there wasn’t a thimbleful left of fuel in their tank.”
The online streaming service VBOSS steamed the feed live for the first time this year.
Numerous car manufacturers being represented at the competition
The majority of the judges in the competition are from car makers. There are also career counselors there to look at resumes along with automotive industry recruiters. It ends up giving the feel of being a large job fair.
Fraser talked about the difference in judging from other competitions. He said:
“They’ll look at a car with a student standing there and they may see something interesting on the car and they’ll discuss the design … and it’s really not unusual at the end of that discussion to see the judge hand the kid a business call and say, you know, give me a call.”
Big win for everybody
The competition ends up being a great source for every person involved. Car manufacturers are able to save money in headhunting fees by having all the talent in one room, and students get a chance to show off their work to prospective car makers. The Formula Hybrid International Competition ends up being good news for all.
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