SUSU Students are Constructing an Electric Race Car with Unique Electronic Transmission in the Framework of Project-Based Education

In 2018–2019, the program of project-based education has been officially launched at South Ural State University. However, this educational technology has already been implementing in a number of university’s subdivisions for many years. In particular, SUSU students have been working on construction of race cars since 2012 in the frameworks of Formula Student engineering competition among university students, organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), which nowadays includes 570 teams representing higher education institutions from around the world. Initiator of SUSU’s participation in this competition series was the Dean of the Automobile and Tractor Faculty, Yuriy Rozhdestvenskiy.

The new educational program approved the project entitled “Electric Race Car”, which is of interdisciplinary, interuninstitutional and interdepartmental nature — a team of students from the Polytechnic Institute, the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities is working on it. The students have the task to design and construct a maximally dynamic, noiseless and eco-friendly race car. The innovative invention takes into account the position that the Department of Students’ Engineering Projects has at the Association of Automotive Engineers (AAE) of Russia.

“University students get theoretic knowledge, but theory without practice is useless. The objective that we’ve set is that a specialist graduating from the university had specific practical skills, which he gets while working over such projects. Implementation of the Electric Race Car project should have a complex approach. The team includes about 20 students; students of various majors get united in an innovative engineering campaign, in which they develop a project of a race car taking into account the engineering idea, and after that they defend the project. Then they create a real race car which is to take part in the Formula Student engineering competition against multiple competitors. This should promote the image of SUSU in interuniversity competition at the international level,” noted the leader of the project, Professor of the SUSU Polytechnic Institute, Aleksandr Vozmilov.

This race car is special because a unique electric engine was designed at SUSU. This became possible after February of 2018, when the Power Engineering Faculty got involved in the project. Students worked over the project under supervision of experienced teachers in the frameworks of the project-based education strategy, using innovative engineering possibilities of the university: the supercomputer with necessary licensed software, and the centers of collective use for producing complex engine mounts and elements.

“Design of electric transmission for a transport vehicle is a difficult scientific and engineering task, which specialists around the world are working over. The main problem is in the fact, that a difficult function is imposed on the electric engine. It should create very big instants in the beginning of a wheel’s movement and develop high speed on the highway. There is no serial production of the engines that should provide this wide range of velocities and instants. They should be specially designed regarding these conditions. At the Power Engineering Faculty, we invented a unique innovative electronic engine which complies with these requirements. Due to a combined excitation system on the basis of powerful constant magnets and a winding, it possesses small size and a wide range of regulation along the magnetic flow. We obtained Russian patent for this invention. However, this idea couldn’t be developed for a long time because electric transmission requires solving additional number of problems connected with the movement of the vehicle. This includes design of braking system, suspender, and cooling. Having united our efforts with specialists form the Automobile and Tractor Faculty, we managed to make a step forward to produce a real test sample,” said the Dean of the SUSU Power Engineering Faculty, Sergey Gandzha.

Presently, students are working on complex electromagnetic and thermal calculations, designing a 3D model of the electric engine, and developing engineering documentation. The new test sample is planned to be constructed and tested in December of 2018. According to calculations, the innovative engine will be much smaller than the existing ones; therefore, the variant of motor-wheel, i.e. placement of the electric motor, planetary reducer and braking system inside of a wheel’s plate, is being considered. Direct supervision of this work is implemented by a master’s degree student of the Power Engineering Faculty, Ivan Chuyduk, and a postgraduate student of the Automobile and Tractor Faculty, Grigory Salimonenko.

Creation of an electric race car is impossible without financial support. Implementation of the project requires 1,5-2 million rubles. Financial issue  is also being solved by students: they count on obtaining grants, attracting sponsors, and cooperation with enterprises. For that, the project should get promoted in media sphere, which is exactly the task that journalists of the ISSH are working on. In turn, students of the School of Economics and Management are compiling a report on the electric race car’s cost and develop a business plan for the market of non-professional race cars. Thus the students taking part in the project pass the way from the idea of creating a specific product to its sale. Key factors of the project’s efficiency will be performance at the engineering competitions and international conferences, as well as publications of research articles in Scoups database, establishing contacts with teams of international universities, and active participation of business society as sponsors, experts and selection specialists.

The Electric Race Car project will be presented in the end of 2019 at the all-Russian scientific and engineering competition in Moscow, which is a preliminary round of Formula Student in Europe. Specialists will evaluate student’s invention and provide recommendations for its improvement. The electric race car is planned to be ready in 2020. Let us wish the students good luck in this interesting project and victories in international competitions!

Azaliya Sharafutdinova
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