2020 - 2021 Seasons Recap
Updated: Jun 5
In 2020, the team adapted to the changing world around us. Early in the season, diminishing resources forced us to make the tough call to halt the aerodynamic development to focus on core vehicle systems. Manufacturing of FHR20 ‘Мила’ began in January, however by March the team was required to abandon ship as Mines campus shut down following spring break. The Team still competed virtually, in static events only. FHR20 was never completed and the chassis has since found new use as part of a computer racing simulator setup.
In 2020 we also congratulated several of our long-time members on graduating in the fall and spring, those including Dan Nosbush, Jacob Blotsky, Bryan Waugh, Trevor Carlson, Crystal Ochoa, and Seth Shultz. We thank you for the countless hours you dedicated to the team throughout your time here.
Entering the 2021 season, the team had shrunk even further, leaving only a handful of experienced engineers, and only one graduating senior. We realized that steps would have to be taken to protect the future of our team. We restructured our officer system and design workflow to accommodate a much smaller roster and to promote a higher level of collaborative work.
The second change was very fundamental to the racecar. Since the fire that ended our 2019 competition, the KTM 690 engine had not run and refused all efforts put on by the powertrain engineers in 2020. Realizing how detrimental this engine was becoming to the overall vehicle progress and reliability, something needed to be done. The team spent the summer discussing our options to improve reliability of the powertrain package. Ultimately this led us to realize a new engine was in order, we needed something that had proven strong performance in FSAE, high reliability and durability in harsh conditions, and widespread technical documentation and parts availability. All of which the KTM did not possess. Our decision matrix came down to looking at 4-cylinder 600cc engines from top motorcycle manufacturers Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Suzuki. Among these, the team chose to move forward with the Honda CBR 600rr due to prior individual experience and a slight cost advantage. We thank Dr. Dolan, Jordan Krell, Andy Pautsch, and Adam Hemmingson and others for giving us guidance throughout this process.
August came and it appeared our luck was changing; several enthusiastic new freshmen joined the team. The fall was then spent trying to integrate the new engine into the FHR20 Chassis, while performing studies on studies on other crucial components to ensure reliability. However, the integration process was unsuccessful as it was simply not feasible to fit a 4-cylinder engine in a single cylinder engine bay. This prompted a redesign of the rear chassis space frame to accommodate the Honda engine.
At this point it was getting late into the season and the team admins made the hard decision to drop out from the validation testing of the two-part 2021 FSAE competition. Due to the heavily set back design and restricted CAT lab hours it was deemed not possible to produce a competition worthy vehicle by May. Ultimately, this decision is looked back on as a step forward for the team, as there have been years in the recent past where a car was rushed to manufacturing and rushed to competition without much testing and this practice is doomed to yield subpar results.
In our much needed time away from the computers, the team was able to restore FHR19 to an operating condition (not one legal for competition) and use the car as a new testing platform. Much of the vehicle dynamics of FHR19 carries over to the new chassis and the team sees it as useful opportunity to get tuning and data acquisition experience, as well as validate some component designs that will be carried over.
In late April, the team competed virtually once again, in static events only, with a car that presently only exists in Solidworks. Overall results left some to be desired, but there is a lot of room to improve with an young, inexperienced team.
After surviving finals in May, we congratulated our only senior, Taylor Haire, on her graduation from SDSMT.