Twelve mechanical engineering students at The American University in Cairo (AUC) have designed and manufactured a single-seat race car that will be competing in the Formula Student 2014 competition in London from July 9 to 14. The Mohamed Samir Ghanima racing team, named in memory of mechanical engineering student Mohamed Samir Ghanima, has been working on the car since July 2013 as part of a senior thesis project in mechanical engineering.
The Formula Student competition, known for its strict rules and requirements, attracts universities from around the world. “The whole aspect of the competition is that it emulates the real F1, so you have to follow all of these regulations regarding engine size, brake size and the type of engine used,” explained Kareem Nada ’14. “There were almost 100 pages worth of regulations, and we had to research them when we were designing the car. We had to find all of these little details regarding size, materials or how far the body is allowed to extend beyond the wheel.”
Because of these high expectations, students had to apply several lessons from the classroom while working on the project. “We had to integrate most of our design courses, power courses and industrial courses in building this car,” said Loay Enan ‘14, the team leader.
The car was built as part of an ongoing project that Mohamed Aly, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, started one and a half years ago. “Students in this huge project learn to incorporate a lot of the theoretical background they acquire along their years of study,” he said. “Mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and control systems were designed, modeled and manufactured.”
And students appreciated the opportunity to incorporate the concepts they learned in the classroom while working on the car at AUC’s workshop. “As much as the classroom is fulfilling, the hands-on experience is more beneficial because you actually get to apply what you’re learning in class,” said Nada. “It’s even more rewarding because you are working with limited resources in Egypt, so you have to think of creative ways to fulfill the competition requirements without as many materials.”
Students also noted how this experience may help make them become more competitive candidates in the job market. “A lot of companies look at your thesis project because it’s part of how they assess your CV,” Enan explained. “Building a car is really a big project, and it’s a story that a lot people are impressed by.”
Beyond the work experience, students also reflected on the time they spent creating the car as a fulfilling way to end their years at AUC. “Looking back, and especially thinking about the people I worked with, this experience was really fun because all of us share a love of cars,” said Nada.
Several features of the car will be tested in the competition, including its brakes, acceleration, tilt, endurance and fuel economy. In addition, the team will be judged for their business and design presentation. The competition judges are leading experts in the engineering industry. “For newcomers, I think we’re in a good position,” said Enan. “I’m looking forward to how we do.”
Aly is also looking forward to what future AUC students will add to the car, explaining that this is an ongoing project and students will continue to build on the work and accomplishments of previous teams. “This project will not end with the July competition,” he said. “New mechanical engineering students will continue to look at the different subsystems of the car like the chassis, suspension and steering, and learn how to evaluate and enhance its performance by incorporating new concepts through state-of-the-art technology.”
The project is mostly funded by the School of Sciences and Engineering and the Parents Associations, as well us some contributions from industry and small businesses.