Student group uses free license servers to build better cars
By Noah Malmed, Computer Science '15
Tucked away behind Loomis Lab is a small building that before a week ago I had no idea existed. The building is called the Engineering Student Project Laboratory, and it is home to one of the coolest registered student organizations (RSOs) on campus.
The Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) club builds a new Formula car every year and races it at international competitions. They recently came in third out of eighty participants at the Formula SAE Lincoln student design competition.
When I first heard of this club, I almost didn’t believe that it was real. A completely student-made car seemed like a monstrous undertaking and I just didn’t think it was possible.
I contacted the Engine Team Leader Shreyas Sudhakar to see just how they actually go about making this car.
After meeting him, Shreyas took me to see the car. And it’s awesome.
Shreyas Sudhakar, image courtesy of Noah Malmed
After I ogled at the car for a few minutes, we sat down to discuss the club.
Shreyas explained that a lot goes into making a car. In fact, the members of the club are split into 7 teams: chassis, composites, aerodynamics, suspension, drivetrain, electronics, and, of course, the engine team.
Each of these teams is not only tasked with simply making parts of the car. They also have to make their system as optimal as possible. For example, certain calibrations done on the engine can increase gas-efficiency or torque.
Shreyas told me that, this year, they are trying to experiment more with how they tune the engine. This involves using simulation software that lets you see what gains you can get from certain tweaks before actually doing them.
For this reason, FSAE reached out to Convergent Science to get a free copy of their Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software.
Free software licenses, however, need to be stored on a server, so the software can be accessed from different computers.
Enter the Technology Services WebStore, which offers license servers for any U of I organization or RSO. With the licensing server from the Technology Services WebStore, the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers doesn’t have to pay for expensive software.
But the group does have other bills to pay, which right now is a struggle for them. If you want to support this RSO, please consider donating to their club. Their GoFundMe page is https://www.gofundme.com/fundillini.
Also, if you are interested in joining their club, check out the join section of their webpage at http://motorsports.illinois.edu/join.php.