CAUC Electric Car Club – 2016 International Champions!!
The name CAUC or Complete and Utter Chaos is fast becoming an ironic statement of the team’s performance.
CAUC’s latest car, Dylan, made his debut at Croft in 2015 as a work in progress and went on to achieve a 2nd place finish during the International Finals of 2015.
The team worked hard through the off season to develop Dylan and arrived at Rockingham Raceway at the start of the 2016 season in full “Faux-rrari” livery as a fully working car. During the day the team drove Dylan to a pole topping 46 miles in 90 mins leaving him in pole position for the finals all season.
The Greenpower International Finals took place once again at the Rockingham Raceway in Corby this weekend (15&16/10/2016), with teams traveling from as far afield as Brazil, two teams from USA, Portugal, Poland and a contingency from Greenpower China.
Despite a little over exuberance in the set up on the first race, CAUC regrouped for the afternoon race knowing that just winning was not enough, they had to win ‘and’ go further than the morning race. The team of 18 girls worked with surgical precision throughout the 90 minute nail biting race, but it was only in the last few minutes that it became clear a first place was going to happen. Even as the car crossed the line, it was unclear whether they had done enough to clinch the championship as the winning distances from both race one and race two were identical and had to be separated by average lap speeds.
Through this achievement, CAUC have now been crowned Greenpower International Champions 2016 and on the back of this, the team has been invited to take part in some even more exciting opportunities before next year. The team will now start to gather sponsorship to travel out to Beijing in 2017 to work with schools taking part in the Greenpower China competition and have the opportunity to travel out to Indianapolis in the sprint to compete against American teams during the Indi500.
click here to watch a stunning clip of Dylan and his friends in action!
Sandbach High School and Sixth Form has always challenged stereotypes and encouraged students to strive to become the best they can in whatever field they choose.
Around 15 years ago, after establishing Engineering as a specific subject at the school, the founding students came together over lunch once a week to take part in extracurricular STEM activities to further develop their engineering skills, led by the former engineering teacher, Mr Alan Beardmore.
Soon after the lunchtime club was established, a promotional flyer caught Mr Beardmore’s attention from the Greenpower Trust starting a race series for students to design, build and race their own single seater electric racing cars and the electric car team was born. During the development of their first car it became clear that the team should race under the name CAUC, otherwise known as `Complete And Utter Chaos’.
As with any new motorsport team, the first few years were not easy and whilst the students drive and enthusiasm helped them make good progress, success was hard to come by, until the team was able to recruit Bob and Richard as long term volunteers, aka Siemens Senior Expert – System Engineering, Dr Robert Carter and Mr Richard Kenny BEng CEng MIET from Siemens in Congleton. Bob and Rich are the unsung heroes of CAUC and volunteer hundreds of hours of their own time and several weeks holiday every year to support the team and to work with the students. They are both keen to sharing their skills and at times, learning along with the students, pushing their development of engineering principals and use of technology. It is with their help that the students were able to develop the team’s 4th car, Brian and every subsequent car the team have built.
The team has grown and now consists of between 30 and 35 students from all year groups from across the whole of Sandbach High School, with older students generally leading on activities and training, but each student brings their own experiences to the benefit of the team.
Brian is the teams 4th car and Greenpower’s longest serving race car, racking up over 5,500 race miles in 10 years and was still competing in the 2016 International Finals at Rockingham last October. Brian marked a change in the fortunes of the CAUC team and started a precedent for the way in which the team cars were prepared and named, using a combination of classic race car livery and names from The Magic Roundabout.
In 2007- 2008 the team came together to build their 5th car Zebedee. As with all the CAUC cars, the cars are designed, developed and built by the students themselves in the workshops at Sandbach High School. Having seen the improvements made in Brian, they set about pushing the development of the car to be the most advanced Greenpower car yet conceived. In 2008, Zebedee won the Greenpower F24 National Championship and then again in 2010 along with the Greenpower F24+ Championship; making CAUC the only team to have held both titles at the same time. Having retired at the end of the 2012 season, Zebedee is now helping to launch the Greenpower series in China.
The team’s current two cars are Dougal and Dylan. Dougal dominated the 2013 season setting numerous race and lap records before falling victim to inclement weather during the National Grand Final at Goodwood. After missing out a large chunk of the race, Dougal’s fight back to 2nd place is the stuff of Greenpower legend. In building Dougal the aim was once again to push the development and understanding of the students at Sandbach High School by designing the most advanced car possible. Such was Dougal’s dominance in the 2013 season, the race organisers made numerous changes to the rules in order to slow the cars down.
Dylan has been in development for a very long time with initial plans first drawn up in 2013. The team wanted to make the most of the opportunity to understand the new 2013 rule changes and so spent a great deal of effort developing and testing ideas on Dougal and evaluating their effect on Dylan. Dylan saw his first race action at Croft in 2015 and managed to collect a couple of second places, including a 2nd place at the International Finals that October. It was however only at Rockingham this July that Dylan received his full `Faux-rrari’ race livery and all the technical developments that the team had planned for him. He collected two 1st places during the day and achieved a distance that should prove hard to beat, placing him on provisional pole for this year’s International Finals in October.
The Greenpower Trust organise a range of engineering challenges for students of all ages, designed to encourage the engagement of students in engineering and STEM careers, all of which centre around students building and racing their own all electric race cars.
At primary school level is Formula Goblins. A fixed formula where schools and youth groups purchase a kit of parts to build a working chassis that can then be customised with the students own body work. These can then be raced at local events organised nationally to qualify for the `Gathering of the Goblins’ final held during the International Finals in October.
At secondary school level is F24 racing, in which schools and youth groups can once again elect to purchase a kit of parts to build a working chassis, however many schools at this level elect to build a scratch built car to their own design, using a fixed formula of motors and batteries. Teams then travel around the country racing their cars at renowned race tracks such as Goodwood, Croft, Castle Combe and Rockingham to qualify for the International Finals in October. The race format is endurance racing, with two 90 minute races in the day. In each race, each team must run a single pair of 12v car batteries and use a minimum of 3 drivers to attain the highest possible mileage. This means that efficiency rather than speed becomes key to the success of a race and just like Formula 1 racing, the on track action is close, hard fought and races can be won or lost during the pit changes.
Post 16 is the F24+ race series. Identical in technical specification to the F24, this is for students and apprentices up to the age of 23 and has included students on placement and internships with F1 teams such as Red Bull Racing. Again this is an endurance race using a single pair of batteries but for only 60 minutes with a single driver making it possible to achieve higher speeds. Teams compete across the country in a minimum of 3 races to accrue points in order to qualify for the International Finals in October.
CAUC compete in both the F24 and F24+ races. With three races per day and only a short interlude between each race, it is vital that team members are organised and understand just how to dial in the race setup for each car to keep the turn around to a minimum and take their place on the grid for the next race.
Tuesday nights and learning opportunities.
CAUC team members are guilty of taking their racing very seriously, it is after all `the winning that is important not the taking part’ and while every team member accepts that this is not always possible, every race is however, an opportunity to learn.
The team formally meets on a Tuesday night and the sessions are packed full of learning and development activities, usually run and organised by the students themselves, with older students taking on leadership roles. Tuesday night activities include CAD/CAM, aerodynamics and virtual wind tunnel analysis through to pit practice and car maintenance. As with all the CAUC cars, it’s the technology that separates them and we often have students developing the programming of the cars’ control systems; with fully automatic gearing, to interpreting the cars’ telemetry results and using this to develop race and driver strategy, along with future developments for the cars.
The Tuesday night before a race is all about preparing the cars for the race and planning the race strategy, with every student clear on their role throughout the day. The Tuesday following a race, or in the case of this year, series of races, is an opportunity to pour through the race data to identify successes and areas for further development in the cars, the drivers and the support the team provides.
As with Formula 1, a race can be won or lost in the pits and with having to make at least four driver changes in a race day, practice is key. The students themselves have put together a rota for team member to spend two lunchtimes a week taking part in pit practice. Over the last couple of years analysis of these procedures has seen an 85% improvement in the pit change time with the need for repeatability being recognised.
In addition to the normal weekday activities both during and after school, the team regularly take part in promotional and fund raising activities with appearances at Autosport International, Big Bang, Sandbach Transport Festival and Car Fest North in the last few years. Due to the time intensive process of working high tech composite materials like carbon fibre, it’s when a new car is in construction that the whole team swings into action during the off season. Small components can be produced over a number of Tuesday evenings but a whole new car can often consume entire weekends and even whole half term weeks. All the time, students are learning not only the technical skills and requirements of the materials but also the teamwork and leadership skills of managing a multi-disciplined team.
In July 2015 a group of student made up mostly of car club members took a trip to Italy to tour the motor industry in the Bologna area. At Ferrari they achieved notoriety for the development of their race craft, at Lamborghini they impressed the production workers with the build quality of their race cars and at Pegani the carbon fibre workshop manager was amazed at their understanding of the industrial practices involved in working carbon fibre. Following this trip, it’s fair to say that there is no such thing as being too car obsessed for these girls. We are currently planning a trip to Germany in the summer of 2017 to tour the car plants of Munich and Stuttgart.
The future of F1 and NASA?
Over the years some of the CAUC team members have expand their activities into other challenges including the former Scalextric 4 Schools competition. In 2015 a student came asking about an additional activity in which she could showcase the skills she had learned at car club. Within a few weeks she had assembled a team of 5 girls, all now fully fledged CAUC members and was ready to make their first assault on the F1 in Schools challenge. It was recognised that their 2015 attempt, while still being competitive, was an opportunity to learn how the competition worked. Their 2016 attempt at the competition was a different matter, with all their CAUC skills and determination they entered the North West Regional heat under the name Storm Racing and collected 3 prizes for the fastest car, best use of R&D to develop their car and the overall North West Regional Champions and earning a place at the UK National Finals.
With over 750 teams entering the competition nationally, at the UK National Finals at Silverstone in April, Storm racing finished 8th overall, produced the 6th fastest car and collected the Dare2B Different award from Dr Kathryn Richards of AMG Petronas for the best all girl team. Their reward for this was a garage tour of the Red Bull pits during 2nd practice of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Ever the self-promotional experts, they managed to Tweet selfies with several of their future F1 bosses including Jenson Button and Suzie Wolff.
The team are now preparing to compete one more time, with the backing of Bentley motors and Barden bearings with the aim of a place at the F1 in Schools International finals in 2017.
In addition to this, two of the F1 in Schools team have quite literally just received notification that they have been accepted for an Arkwright scholarship to continue their engineering studies for the next two years through A-level. Both these students have also signed up for a STEM trip myself and a colleague are running to take part in a NASA challenge at Mission Control in Huston Texas in 2018.
The future of Engineering?
Over the past 15 years a great number of students have gone on to study courses from Architecture to Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Product Design at various universities and a number have entered straight into industry through apprenticeship schemes. We have however also had a number of students who have gone on to other areas due to the skills they have learned through CAUC in logistics, marketing and promotion and business management.
We have recently had one team member who has been looking at university options, particularly to study motorsport engineering who has turned down an offer at one particular renowned university due to their Formula Student team not having high enough expectations and not allowing a Fresher with her experience to becoming involved in their team. Her feeling was that she did not wish to have to wait three years before being able to share her learning in order to bring the university teams expectations up to the level of our Greenpower school team.
At all levels we have found that interviewers are far more interested in the application of our students skills through car team than the academic grades they have written down before them, and one thing our girls can do is talk about car team.
The team have been working over the summer holidays on refining the aerodynamics of Dylan and carried out a number of trials to develop the production processes to be used on the team’s next car ready for full production in the autumn. This should allow the students to implement what they learned at Pegani.