The Society of Automotive Engineers has been sponsoring design competitions for engineering students for several decades with one of the most popular being the Formual SAE. In that event, teams of college students design, build, develop and race a single seat open-wheel race car, generally powered by some kind of motorcycle engine. In addition to the car itself, they also have to produce technical reports on the car, including cost and performance analysis all of which are judged. Given the realities of the modern world we live in, there is now an offshoot of FSAE called Formula Hybrid.

The Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth got the Formula Hybrid program kicked off when they started working on a hybrid Formula SAE car. The FSAE rules subsequently changed to disallow hybrids but a new competition was started with the first annual event taking place on May 1-3, 2007 at New Hampshire raceway in Loudon NH. The hybrid rules are largely the same as FSAE except for the hybrid drivetrain and not having to build a new chassis every year. They can take existing FSAE chassis and rework them for the new competition. The engines are limited to 250cc displacements and drive-by wire systems are allowed.

This is exactly the kind of thing that's needed to give students some real experience with the kind of technology that's being worked on the industry today. There are nine teams entered for 2007 including a team from McGill University in Montreal. We'll bring you results next week after the competition.

[Source: Formula Hybrid]

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