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The sounds of engines revving and the faint smell of petrol aren’t things people normally associate with a university classroom. But for students in Edith Cowan University’s Motorsports course – recently judged one of the most innovative university courses in the nation – designing, building and driving a race car are all in a day’s study.
Today Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham presented the Perth Uni ‘s Bachelor of Technology (Motorsport) program, established in 2006, the Award for Programs that Enhance Learning.
Each year the students design, build and race a new open-wheel car to compete against the best student racing teams from around the world in the Formula Student Competition.
Despite being one of the smallest teams and with a modest budget, the ECU team currently is ranked second in Australia and 25th internationally. The budget constraints have led to many innovations. For example, ECU is renowned for pioneering a unique chassis manufacturing technique now adopted by other university race teams.
The team also is one of just a handful to design, manufacture and successfully compete with their own customised engine, rather than utilise an existing motorbike engine. The work is completed in a state-of-the-art motorsports workshop on ECU’s Joondalup Campus, with testing undertaken at nearby Barbagallo Raceway and smaller tracks around WA.
The workshop includes an engine dynamometer, damper dynamometer, engine flow bench, 3D laser scanner, 3D printer and instruments to test material strength and fatigue.
According to Program Leader Dr Kevin Hayward, fostering teamwork and knowledge-sharing among the students is crucial to success on the track.
“Peer-to-peer learning is a big part of the course. In our workshop you might see a first-year student applying their skills in race car wing manufacture alongside a third-year student that has learned data acquisition skills. Taking a Project-Based Learning approach, it really pushes the students to practically apply their theoretical knowledge to achieve the goal of designing and producing a competitive race car.” – Dr Kevin Hayward.
Graduates from the course have gone on to work with the Supercar Championship, NASCAR and other race teams around the world.
“The skills our graduates learn are also applicable across a wide range of industries and we’ve seen our graduates employed in the oil and gas sector, construction and with utilities such as Water Corp.” – Dr Hayward .
The ECU team currently is preparing its latest car to race in the 2018 Formula Student UK event at Silverstone, the home of British motorsport.
Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) competition, Australasia:
2007: Best new team
FSAE competition, UK
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