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Followers of the Formula SAE and Formula Student series will witness a groundbreaking event in the 2010 racing season. The BA Racing Team from the Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg-Ravensburg (DHBW-R), Germany, and the Beaver Racing Team from Oregon State University (OSU) have combined forces this year with the goal of competing as a single international entity.
This innovative global collaboration is the first of its kind in the history of both the US-based Formula SAE and EU-based Formula Student programs and is the result of three years of discussions and planning between team members and faculty from both universities. Previously, DHBW-R and OSU students have collaborated on designing certain aspects of one another’s vehicles. This year the collaboration has moved to whole new level: The two universities have designed an entire car together and are entering the US and EU competitions as one and the same team: Global Formula Racing (GFR).
During a series of meetings held in Germany in August 2009, GFR team leaders decided on the overall concept for the 2010 car: an ultra-lightweight vehicle with a full monocoque chassis and single cylinder engine. This concept has been realized over the last several months through trans-Atlantic collaborations on virtually all subsystem design tasks:
• A team of students from both universities designed the suspension.
• The CFRP (carbon fiber) monocoque chassis was designed and analyzed by DHBW-R students while OSU students concurrently developed the CFRP manufacturing processes and designed the chassis interfaces.
• Engine development was also split between the universities, with engine simulation studies done at DHBW-R and physical validation of those simulations at OSU.
• DHBW-R students did electronics design.
In any team design project, frequent communication between members is a critical ingredient of project success. Because GFR team members are based at two different sites, this communication must be conducted virtually—and the fact that these sites are nine time zones apart has presented unique logistical challenges. Project meetings occur frequently and are held at all hours of the day and night. Communication tools include a variety of virtual teaming technologies, including Skype, Google Documents, Catia V5 and Teamcenter Engineering.
The collaboratively developed GFR design is being used to manufacture two identical cars—one at the OSU campus in Corvallis, Oregon, USA, and the other at the DHBW-R campus in Friedrichshafen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Effective supply chain management is a significant challenge in this effort, the biggest concern being where to purchase and manufacture vehicle parts. For each manufactured part, the team has had to decide whether to (1) manufacture two parts in Germany and ship one to the US; (2) manufacture two parts in the US and ship one to Germany; or (3) manufacture one part in each location. Off-the-shelf purchases require similar decisions. In a trans-Atlantic design collaboration, manufacturing capabilities, shipping costs, taxes and tariffs, and lead times must all be considered.
Clearly, managing such a venture is a not simple task, and GFR has developed a unique project management structure to deal with its globally distributed design, manufacturing and supply chain management issues. Upper management consists of a steering committee comprising graduate student advisors and faculty members from each university. This committee is responsible for high-level decisions regarding team structure and management. Undergraduate student leaders at both locations manage design, manufacturing logistics, communication channels and daily team operations and advise team members. Sub-teams of students from both schools handle detailed design and manufacturing responsibilities.
The Global Formula Racing team is currently registered for five 2010 competitions: Formula SAE Michigan, Formula SAE California, Formula Student UK, Formula Student Germany and Formula Student Italy. Students from both universities will participate in each of these events. They will use the vehicle assembled at OSU for the US competitions and the one assembled at DHBW-R for the European competitions.
DHBW-R and OSU students are working effectively to design and build an excellent vehicle. By combining knowledge, experience, and resources of two top-10 teams from 2009, the Global Formula Racing team expects to be very competitive in the 2010 international events. GFR team members and supporters are excited to see what this season will bring. We look forward to seeing you on the track!