Ferris Goes Hybrid

The invention of the car not only revolutionized the transportation world, but also transformed the way people lived their everyday lives. Yet human desire for technological advancement forged ahead and the automobile industry proved it still had more to offer.

The advent of hybrid technology and alternative energy sources is now the focus of the American people’s attention.

Currently five Ferris students from the automotive engineering technology program, led by senior Casey Martin, have taken an interest in designing a hybrid engine for a car of their own and will compete in Formula Hybrid, a design and engineering challenge for college students in which they are tasked with designing and building a single seat, Indy style race car from the ground up.

The team formed early in winter semester of last school year and have been working all summer designing and making plans for the car they will construct for competition. Martin states that the designs are almost ready to be put into building and has high hopes that construction will begin by the end of the month.

“Most hybrid teams are on a two-year build cycle,” says Martin. “This means they compete with a new car every two years. By starting last year after Christmas and competing this year, we’re actually pushing ourselves as a first year team to really get on the ball and are on an aggressive timeline.”

The car that the team has designed will follow a basic gasoline/electric hybrid design and will run off of a parallel power system; meaning that the batteries by themselves can run the car and the engine is used strictly to provide electrical energy.

During the competition, the car and team are put through a series of tests and events to determine which car has the most effective and efficient engine.

Some of the challenges the car is put through is to first pass a tech inspection, where professionals from the industry come in and go over the car with a fine tooth comb, making sure everything is going to be safe; a 75 meter acceleration and braking test, where the car must accelerate full out for 75 meters and then lock all four tires; and a series of track courses to demonstrate how the car actually performs.

The team must also present a full cost report, which Martin accredits as a marketing pitch as if the team were actually selling the engine to a company. They must also partake in a design presentation where the design is reviewed and the team is questioned by a panel of professionals.

“Goal number one is to pass the tech inspection,” said Martin. “We have to be able to compete. If we’re able to pass tech inspection and compete in every event, regardless of our finishing position, we would look at that as a huge accomplishment.”

The Formula Hybrid competition will be held in May at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and is hosted by the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth.

For more information regarding the team, car, and competition visit fsuhybrid.com.