Gearing up for the next Formula-like race

The Faculty of Engineering is gearing up for the 2019 Formula SAE competition, moving to four-wheel drive and a new improved aerodynamic package, thanks partly to the kindness of philanthropic car enthusiasts.

The Faculty of Engineering’s Formula SAE team held its annual Tech Night recently, a chance for the team to give long-term supporters and staff an update on this year’s build.

The SAE competition has, for the past 15 years, given students a chance to design, manufacture and race a Formula-style vehicle.

The success of the University of Auckland team can be put down to the passion and commitment of students, but also to the philanthropic support it has received over the years.

That includes the support of high-profile racing enthusiast and prominent businessman, Sir Colin Giltrap, and particularly the Murray family, a legacy established by the late Ian Murray.

Mr Murray graduated from the University’s School of Engineering at Ardmore. He was a strong proponent the SAE competition as it gave students a chance to put into practice what they learn in the classroom.

The philanthropic tradition has been continued by Ian’s wife, Emma, who regularly travels to Australia to watch the competition, and his son Stuart. 

Dr Eva Hakansson, lecturer in mechanical engineering is one of three Faculty Advisors for the team and a big proponent of the Formula SAE competition.

“It provides the students with hands-on engineering,” she says. “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

“These students will learn that very quickly. They will enter the job market with a huge amount of experience, and will get hired directly by the most attractive employers, such as Rocket Lab. Simply speaking, the experience from the team will make them much better engineers.”

Last year’s Team Leader Lizzy Grant agrees. “This team is a brilliant opportunity for students to gain an understanding of what real engineering is all about,” she says.

“The members get a tremendous amount of value out of not only the technical design and manufacture but also learning about human and financial management.

The 2018 campaign was one of our most successful in recent years, culminating in a third-place finish in electric class.

This was despite only having moved to an electric powertrain in 2016 and struggling to get in enough testing time to produce a reliable car for the competition.

“So last year we decided on an iterative design from the previous year to reduce the amount of re-design required. That meant we could get the running car out in August, which gave us three months to thoroughly test the vehicle before the competition in December.”

Lizzy is now in her fourth year (Hons) of a Mechanical Engineering and Science (Physics) conjoint degree. She first joined the team as a “chassis newbie” in 2016, was Business Manager and Deputy Team Leader in 2017, Team Leader in 2018 and this year will be Co-Electrical Team Leader with Matt Hufton as Team Leader.

“I was immediately drawn to the team as it lets you create a real-life race car from scratch, an opportunity that is not easy to come across,” she says.

“I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunities, challenges and joy that the team has offered me over the years.”

“We expect about 15-20 electric teams and will be gunning for an improved placing from last year.”

Media contact

Margo White | Media
Tel 09 923 5504
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For All Our Futures

The Formula SAE team is one of many projects that have been supported by philanthropic donations being showcased over the next months to mark the final days of the fundraising campaign.

New Zealand’s most ambitious fundraising campaign was launched in September 2016 with the aim of raising $300 million to put towards programmes, research, and scholarships to help the University of Auckland contribute to some of the biggest questions facing society today.

Donors, philanthropists, alumni, staff, and friends of the University have contributed, indicating the areas they wish to support. The majority of the gifts have been made for a specific purpose, from funding significant chairs of study, to supporting scholarship initiatives. The campaign closes on 31 October and the final total will be announced on 21 November 2019.

For All Our Futures