DFR Team Vision
Dartmouth Formula Racing is an incredible, invaluable resource for the students of the Thayer School. It provides them with a unique, interdisciplinary space in which they can apply the knowledge from their engineering studies to a real world application. It provides a space for older students to share their practical experience with automotive design, engineering, tuning, and racing with younger students who are trying to figure out where their interests lie, and teaches students the importance of safety and professionalism around powerful tools, mechanical systems, and high-voltage electronics.
The Thayer School of Engineering prides itself for its highly project-based education; nearly every class culminates with some sort of final project that encourages students to push the bounds of their knowledge to research, design, and or fabricate a project that represents showcases their creativity and how they have mastered a particular subject. This project-oriented teaching style is very efficient at breeding successful, innovative engineers ready to tackle real-world problems.
Dartmouth Formula Racing is an excellent, extra-curricular example of this type of project-oriented learning. DFR is run entirely by students, with faculty guidance provided by advisor Professor John Collier, technical instructor Jason Downs, and help from many other faculty and staff of the Thayer School. Students who partake in DFR are exposed to an extremely high level of engineering, and are forced to rise above and beyond the expectations of their classes to apply their class knowledge and experience to a completely different engineering problem: designing and optimizing a formula-style racecar. This also requires a significant amount of research, and forces Thayer students to interact on a professional level with suppliers of parts and components.
Working on an automotive engineering and race team is no easy task. It combines the skills and knowledge of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and software engineering in an extremely real application. It also requires an engineering management team to handle fundraising, accounting, team and project management and organization. Students are given the opportunity to weld, to machine and fabricate complex custom parts, install automotive components, program controls for and test electrical components, and learn about all the necessary subsystems of a race car. This seemingly insurmountable task is done each year by students at the Thayer school to create competitively designed, technologically advanced racecar, while adhering to extensive safety regulations. DFR is truly unique in the Thayer school for providing such an interdisciplinary educational and recreational experience that is truly a real world application. It prepares students for careers in the automotive industry, as well as others, and shows employers that these students truly have what it takes to become creative, motivated and innovative engineers.
The end goal of DFR each year is to win the annual Formula Hybrid Competition, held every May in Louden, NH. It is a rigorous competition that is judged based on the car’s performance in acceleration, autocross, endurance, design, and aesthetics. It was created by the Thayer School in 2004 when the Formula SAE competition banned hybrid vehicles. The Formula Hybrid competition is all about innovation and the advancement of automotive technology, and forcing students to find creative new ways to apply and push the state of the art to its limits.
DFR, since its inception in 1996, has been at the forefront of automotive innovation, and continues to be so, as 2013 marked the first year DFR plans to race an entirely electric racecar, and the team is continuing to develop the EV technology for the 2014 season. The team decided to switch to an all-electric racer because an analysis of the hybrid system on the 2012 car proved that though it helped the efficiency of the car, it did not significantly boost the performance. Given the small size, and lightweight nature of formula student cars, a formula E car can seriously compete with the gas cars because of improved battery technology and availability of incredibly powerful, lightweight electric motors. DFR is taking a stand at the forefront of automotive innovation by employing an electric drivetrain, and the students on the team are getting experience in an exciting and growing industry, building a powerful, beautiful, jaw-dropping electric racecar.
2013 marks the first season DFR has placed first at a SAE competition, and we look forward to rising with our electric racer to continue win again, and bring our car to the Formula E competition in June. Advancements in the technology and design of the formula cars are constantly bringing DFR closer to that goal, with many design and efficiency awards. In order to keep providing the incredible resource of DFR to the students and to be competitive at the Formula Hybrid competition, DFR needs monetary support and sponsorships.
If you are able to help DFR provide Thayer students with an opportunity for real life applications of engineering knowledge and professional development, please visit our sponsor page. We are always happy to hear from you; any way you can help we would be happy to get you involved.
Current students: Please if you are remotely interested Get Involved! It doesn’t matter where your experience lies, you will have something to do or learn. DFR is an amazing part of Thayer and it is a shame to go through Dartmouth without taking advantage of it.