UNC Charlotte university's Motorsports engineering students wrapped up the first step of their senior design project this weekend when they finished scanning HVM Racing's No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Indy car. Three students –Brandon McSwain, Jonathan Brissenden, and Clinton Fields – under the supervision of project mentor Dr. Mesbah Uddin, will use the data gathered from the scan to create a 3-D computer model of the car.
The racecar, which was driven by Simona DeSilvestro during the 2012 IZOD IndyCar season, was delivered to the UNC Charlotte campus on Oct. 8. The seniors began work with the help of HVM Racing crew member Randy Smay, who was on site to disassemble the car as needed for scanning. Each student logged roughly 100 hours during the two weeks that the car was in the campus' motorsports research lab.
The project came about through collaborative efforts of HVM Racing, their sponsor AREVA, and the Motorsports division of Mechanical Engineering department at UNC Charlotte.
"In the middle of the summer we were approached by UNC Charlotte and AREVA for ideas on senior student programs," said Tom Brown, technical director for HVM. "Together we provided several ideas, and ways to move forward, on projects that would benefit the students, increase their knowledge and understanding of a particular technical aspect of our business."
Brown offered several options to Dr. Uddin for consideration before the group decided on the direction the project would take. "A CFD study on how to improve the aero aspects of the front of the car was our main focus," Brown said. "As engineers, we can gain a certain amount of aerodynamic information from wind tunnel testing, but CFD offered us the opportunity to look at multiple case studies. The aim is to improve the downforce, reduce the drag at the same time decreasing pitch sensitivity over multiple ride heights and steering angles. Not an easy task. Having the full size car at their disposal allowed the group to scan the actual car, build the models and prepare for the next stage of putting it all together and preparing for the CFD runs."
Security was tight around the motorsports lab for the two weeks that the Indy car was on campus for the project.
"As a motorsports engineering professor at UNC Charlotte, I always vie to provide my students with a feel of the life in a real racing world," Dr. Uddin said. "The experience that the three senior design students had during the last two intense weeks while the HVM Nuclear Clean Air Energy Indy racecar was here at UNC Charlotte's new Motorsports lab, in my opinion, is second to none. The students viewed the opportunity of dismantling an actual racecar and then building its digital model for future analysis as the best one they could ever have as engineering students."
HVM Racing's sponsor AREVA was instrumental in bringing the project together having worked with UNC Charlotte on other projects in the past.
"This initiative became a reality only due to the enormous support we received from the managements of both HVM and AREVA," Uddin continued. "Although AREVA has been one of the most active industrial sponsors of UNC Charlotte's Senior Design program, we believe that their involvement with our motorsports engineering, a theme that may be viewed as one of the best tools to attract our future engineers to STEM discipline, will add a new dimension to our existing collaboration."
"We, at HVM, have been enormously impressed with the skills and dedication of the students and applaud their decision to take on this project," Brown added. "The facilities the students have, the strength of the UNC Charlotte Engineering department is something HVM are extremely pleased to be associated with. We want to thank AREVA and UNC Charlotte for allowing us to be partners in helping the students work on this project, and hope in the future we can be available to be part of any future endeavors."