FSAE Tips for the Competition – For the Love of Engineering

So the results for FSAE Michigan are in.  Congratulations to all the teams that participated in the competition and thank you to all the teams that talked to me during the event.  I learned a great deal and want to share some of what I learned with the engineering students that work so hard at this competition and for those schools thinking about starting a FSAE team.  After coming home, I reviewed the rules for 2011 and wanted to make a few suggestions.

The events, Design Event, Presentation Event, Cost Event  are static.  For teams that will participate in 2012 FSAE events, assign team members now .  Let's take the Cost report.  There are two parts: 1) A copy of the Cost report, due at least 7 weeks before the event.  2) A presentation of the Cost report at the event, at a scheduled time, in front of judges during the event.  Some teams lost points just because of their documents being late in the mail.  Some teams lost points because they could not answer the judges questions.  Engineers must always be early. Engineers must be prepared.

To help you with costing, create a SolidWorks Custom Property, called "Unit Cost".  Add this custom property of every part you manufacture or every assembly you purchase.  Add the Custom Property "Material" and assign it to "SW-Material" for each part that you manufacture.  Add the Custom Property "Mass" and assign it to "SW-Mass" .  (You could also use Weight by multiplying by g").

Custom Property 

Custom property 2 

Inside the Assembly, you can insert a Bill of Materials – right as you start designing your car.  Add empty parts as place holders.  Add two columns "Unit Cost" and "SubTotal Cost".  Unit Cost * QTY = SubTotal Cost.  Add Mass so you can calculate total Mass of the assembly.  FSAE gives cost for materials in $/lb so make certain you use the right units and that your material density is the same value provided by FSAE. While you are figuring out your assembly you can play with "what if" scenarios by exchanging components that are purchased or machined.  You can review Cost and Mass scenarios.


Once your team has agreed on a sub assembly model, make the drawing.  You will have multiple revisions – but start early with the drawing.  Your Bill of Material must contain 3 sub levels for the judges.  You can export out the BOM into Excel to do some more work with advanced formulas.  As your model evolves, your drawing will update.

If you read the bio's from the FSAE judges – they are pretty impressive.  They have worked in industry.  So don't try to do "cute" things with your COST report or Design reports that don't adhere to an engineering drawing standard.  It doesn't matter if your drawings are in ANSI or ISO, First or Third Angle – as long as the Title Block is labeled.  Units need to be in the Title Block too.  In SolidWorks, create your own Drawing Template at the beginning of the build season with your school and team name.  Snag an image of your school logo or crest.  Insert the picture into your Drawing Template.   Save the Drawing Template to describe what it is FSAE-ANSI-MM.

There is an option in SolidWorks Drawings called Section Scope.  You can create a Section view and include certain sub assemblies on one side of the parting line and a full view on the other side.  The National University of Singapore utilized this technique very well.

National university of Signapore 2 

If you are the team member selected to present on COST, practice in front of a mirror, have your teammates ask you questions - look good and be confident. Iron your shirt, where clean clothes.  Would I buy this car from you? Have other teammates support you, the presenter so they too can learn. 

 FSAE Ironing

Also – tell us what you need from SolidWorks.  For teams that register for 2012 sponsorship, we will send you our tutorials for designing a FSAE car analyzing stress on a welded frame, flow  in an intake, molding, thermal properties on brakes, and sustainability assessment. We also have many videos for FSAE on YouTube.  Thank you to the University of Akron for giving me more ideas – Engineers never stop learning.

There are only two things we ask for our Sponsorship – to place a high quality, waterproof, automotive decal on your car and an image of your team and or car. 

University of Akron Day 3 
As design gets tough – make certain to have fun.  Factory Five Racing certainly did when they helped Jeremy make the next episode of  Let's Go Design – Hot Rod Baby Buggy




Marie Planchard

Marie Planchard

Senior Director, Early Engagement, 3DEXPERIENCE Works at Dassault Systemes
Marie Planchard is an education and engineering advocate. As Senior Director of Education & Early Engagement, SOLIDWORKS, she is responsible for global development of content and social outreach for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works products across all levels of learning including educational institutions, Fab Labs, and entrepreneurship.
Marie Planchard