R-18 races into 13th place

15 May 2018 | EducationResearch
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Prof Seah (3rd from right) and NUS Engineering students with the newly unveiled R-18 at the Michigan International Speedway in May

NUS Engineering’s newly launched race car R-18 shone at the 2018 Formula SAE (FSAE) International Challenge, held in Michigan, US from 9 to 12 May, racing into the impressive 13th spot overall.

Competing against 118 teams from around the world, the team of 15 NUS students behind the automobile powerhouse wowed the judges to further rank among the top ten in the following categories:

•    Brake Design Award – 3rd place
•    Engineering drawing – 3rd place
•    Engineering design – 5th place
•    Acceleration drag race – 6th place
•    Business presentation – 6th place

Unveiled on 28 March, the R-18 boasts superior features such as a wireless driver communication system, real-time telemetry with an Android app, and quicker automatic shifting of gears.

It is extremely fulfilling and rewarding for me to see the students learn so much throughout the year. This FSAE competition is the culmination of a year’s hard work and the results reflect our achievements.

This year’s achievements were made even sweeter against a backdrop of challenges faced by the team, including one of their own contracting chicken pox, which necessitated the other team members readjusting their sleeping arrangements between them due to a shortage of hotel rooms in the vicinity during the race period.  

They faced another setback during the initial technical inspection. The car’s rear wing, which was attached by hardened steel bolts to take the wind load and provide downforce, was found to be dangerous in the event the car overturned, since it would stress the role cage meant to protect the driver. Racing (pun intended) against the clock, the team rushed to the hardware store to replace the bolts with weaker stainless steel ones that would fail as desired in such an event. The team continued working on modifications to the car late into the night — illuminated only by the headlights of another vehicle — and R-18 was certified fit for the tracks by the next morning. 

They also had to contend with chilly temperatures and continuous wet weather, conditions far unlike what they were used to back home. This meant that the engine had to be tuned differently and the ideal tyre pressure and suspension settings for optimum ground traction recalibrated. Fortunately, all the electronic circuitry had been successfully waterproofed by the team’s Electrical Engineering students.  

NUS FSAE Advisor Professor Seah Kar Heng said that it had been taxing on every member of the team to compete against some of the best engineering schools in the world, but he was proud of how far the students had come. “It is extremely fulfilling and rewarding for me to see the students learn so much throughout the year. This FSAE competition is the culmination of a year’s hard work and the results reflect our achievements,” he said.  

Team Leader Goh Wei Liang, Year 4 NUS Mechanical Engineering and NUS Business, added, “All of us are thankful to be given such an opportunity to develop ourselves into world-class engineering students.”