“You'll never walk alone”
by Federico Fiorini
As stated by the rules, every year the Formula Student Team Delft has to build a new race car from scratch. This obviously doesn't mean that we cannot take inspiration or use components and reasoning from previous years, but our job as engineers is to take all sources of inspiration and make our own original design.
This clearly comes with some downsides: in fact, most engineers every year do not have previous experience and the design process might seem like a mountain impossible to climb.
Every day we have to decide between difficult trade-offs and take tricky decisions that can possibly have a huge impact on further development and future decisions, and there is plenty of room for making mistakes. But hey, isn't it most of being an engineer?
However, later in December we have to freeze our design in order to start the production phase, when all components will be manufactured or ordered so that in 2019 we can start assembling our (hopefully) trophy-winning car.
To do so, we do not want design errors to have a huge impact on the final result, but we as engineers do not really know whether our choices will eventually result in problems later on. This is the reason why we have reviews with the Technical Committee after every single phase.
The Technical Committee (or TC, in short) is composed by the departments' chiefs from previous years, and they offer their time to help us in making the right choices, or at least in thinking of all the possible options we have to make the best possible design.
Thanks to their great experience in the Formula Student world, and having worked in the FSTD in the past, they can give us a very useful feedback on our design choices, and therefore correct some of the mistakes we might have done.
In addition, their role is to give "wake up calls" in the case a department is underperforming or not doing things properly, as it happened with the software sub-department this year.
In fact, we encountered some bumps in the road while trying to change some hardware components of the car, and the TC immediately made us understand that such radical changes are very likely to have a very bad outcome on the overall car performance.
But, as you can imagine, the entire software development has slowed down a lot due to this, and now we have to work harder and harder to finish coding before the end of December.