The Formula Student project is widely regarded as one of the most challenging undergraduate engineering competitions in the world. At Warwick, Formula Student, like all MEng group projects in the department, simulates working like a small company. This is particularly difficult as the small team must allocate resources towards project management, financial planning, health and safety and corporate social responsibility alongside the core design and manufacture roles, just as we would in the real world. The core team is also supported by a group of more junior undergraduates, most of whom are members of the Class 2 team. The core team often allocates non-academic tasks, such as the publication of a newsletter, to these students; a relationship which simulates outsourcing.
Much of the design tasks can be split between three main areas: Powertrain, Chassis and Electric Powertrain. The members of these teams carry out the bulk of the technical design work. Though each person in the team has a clear area of responsibility, it is often necessary for team members to take on multiple roles.
The Project Manager is responsible for timely delivery of the project. They ensure that each team member clearly understands what is required of them and that they are given the tools and motivation to carry out their individual tasks effectively. The Project Manager must also ensure at all stages of the project that good communication is maintained and that the team’s work is aligned with the objectives and mission of the project.
As the name implies, the Chief Engineer works with both the chassis and powertrain teams to ensure that the team’s design principles are followed. Through consultation and guidance, the Chief Engineer ensures that the car built by the team is an optimum design which is fully compliant with the rules, incorporating excellent reliability, low embodied energy and good value for money. The Chief Engineer is ultimately responsible for the quality of the final build.
Sponsorship and Finance Manager
The roles of Sponsorship manager and Finance manager are combined in the team. In this way, all of the incoming money and all of the expenditures must go through a single person. There are two main responsibilities:
1. Building and maintaining relationships with sponsors. As the project is largely self-funded, this is an absolutely crucial job. Once sponsors are on board, the Sponsorship and Finance manager ensures that they are kept informed of progress and that any agreements are followed through.
2. Managing the project budget. The Formula Student project is extremely fast paced and runs on an extremely tight budget. As with any real company, there is also a purchasing procedure in place within the university that Warwick Racing must adhere to. The Sponsorship and Finance manager monitors the budget and, along with the project manager, ensures that all purchases are necessary and cost effective.
Aids to management
As one would find in a real company, there are many things to manage and keep track of within the project. To help manage these aspects, a series of aids are being used:
1. Bill of Materials (BOM): An accurate bill of materials is required by the competition but is also good practice generally. Our bill of materials combines a series of documents used in the past into one simple spreadsheet. The BOM will list all the parts of the car. For each part, associated information such as cost, weight, source and embodied energy is recorded. We also use the BOM to track the progress of our design and to structure our CAD design by assigning each part an electronic part name.
2. Vault: we are aiming to achieve a 100% CAD build of the car. To achieve this, all of our CAD work will be done using AutoCAD. The program features a tool which allows sharing of CAD files, called Vault. This allows team members to work on different parts of the design simultaneously without conflicting versions coming into existence. Vault also allows Sharing of other file formats, such as Microsoft Project which allows fully remote access.
4. Microsoft Project: This is a specialised program used for project management. It allows the manager to plan and allocate tasks based on team resources, skills and deadlines. It is used during the design phase to ensure that critical components are designed in the right order and early enough to allow time for manufacture. During the manufacture phase, this software becomes absolutely vital as the amount of concurrent tasks is very large. Nearly all of these manufacture and assembly tasks are themselves dependant on other tasks, people or equipment so a comprehensive plan accounting for these is essential.
Design philosophy and objectives
Our philosophy of Sustainable, Reliable, Serviceable forms the foundation of our design and shapes our objectives for the project:
1. Sustainability: Minimise the negative environmental impacts of the car without compromising performance.
2. Reliability: Build the car in time to allow at least 1 month of testing in order to complete ALL events at the 2013 competition.
3. Serviceability: Create a design to leaves a very serviceable platform so that alterations or reparations can be easily undertaken.
4. Feasibility: Design & build a car which would realistically be bought as a weekend racer i.e. a car which is simple to maintain, useable by a range of drivers and finished to a high standard.
5. Cost effectiveness: Build a high performance car with good value for money.
6. Academic Aim: Apply basic academic principles to a high standard in order to optimize the WR2 design.
7. Competition Aim: Finish in the top 10 at the 2013 competition.
In order to have the car built in time to allow for adequate testing and refinement, the design an manufacture phases must overlap. In this way, the things that take longest to manufacture can be started early while other parts of the car are still being designed. Another reason this is necessary is to ensure the most efficient use of our time and resources.