Set around the challenge to build and operate a purely electric racing car, this year’s Formula Student (Electric) competition put student designers to the test. To prepare several teams for the event, the VDI Racing Camp powered by norelem brought together more than 250 participants from across Germany, preparing them for the prestigious competition by providing components and support to each team.
As a sponsor of the VDI Racing Camp, norelem has long been committed to developing young talent, offering designers the chance to test their innovative racing car projects. This year, a total of 19 Formula Student teams sent their vehicles to the practical test facility in Münsterland and tested their teamwork under competitive conditions.
Ahead of the main event, norelem organised for the students to meet at the test site of the open-air research laboratory for load securing in Selm, Westphalia. norelem first organised the ‘dress rehearsal’ for Formula Student in 2016, which would go on to be dubbed Racing Camp.
In the current 2023/24 Formula Student season, norelem is supporting around 54 German Formula student teams and an additional 42 international teams. Formula Student (Electric) is a design competition for enrolled students, where the challenge is to design and build a formula vehicle for a non-professional, weekend racer. The challenge also includes the planning of a larger, fictional production, and then testing the designed vehicle on a racetrack. With all of this considered, Racing Camp acts as the perfect preparation grounds for this competition.
The 250 students spent the three days, designing, building, and putting their vehicles to the test. The teams were able to make the best of their cooperation without the pressure of an actual competition, and in turn, practise presenting themselves professionally, with these skills being key in the official Formula Student event.
At the Formula Student event itself, the most important safety features of the vehicle are tested, as is the driving behaviour, and the play of forces on the track – as seen through the vehicles’ ability to accelerate in a straight line or manoeuvre around corners at a constant radius. Equally, the students themselves are tasked with giving a presentation to a team of judges, who will then go on to conduct design and cost reports of the vehicle.
13 of the 19 teams at this year’s Racing Camp competed with a purely electric-powered racing car, including the Formula Student Team Infinity Racing from Kempten University of Applied Sciences. The Allgäu team is no stranger to norelem: the team presented a racing simulator at Motek 2022, the construction of which was supported by the provision of standard components by the norelem ACADEMY. These included aluminium profiles and numerous connecting elements, which were used for the vehicle’s platform, but norelem parts can also be found on the vehicle’s base and frame. The passion for motorsport has united the team since 2007 and it currently has 85 members.
Infinity Racing, another of the 19 teams, was able to test its prototype on the tarmac for the first time VDI Racing Camp. “Through the technical scrutiny at the Racing Camp we get a chance to learn about the weaknesses of our car and what we need to improve before the official events,” said Intira Gross, Infinity Racing manager and team leader.
“Since we have a lot of new members at the moment, it’s great when they can learn and practise the procedures at an event like the Racing Camp. Many of the attendees didn’t know how the assessment process works. Here they have the chance to learn a lot and prepare for the real exams. Plus, the fun nature is super important for us to bond as a team.”
The camp is also about considering the economic aspects of vehicle construction, as presentation and financing of the project are important building blocks to also convince in international competition.
Converting from a combustion engine to an electric vehicle is an additional financial challenge for each team that has chosen to do so. The total costs of such a vehicle amount to about €500,000, whereby the pure material value is already €200,000. For example, a drive train costs roughly €50,000, and vehicle batteries cost over €20,000; this alone illustrates how important it is for students to receive the support of companies like norelem, who provide knowledge and components free of charge.
Martin Ahner, product training manager at the norelem ACADEMY, said: “In norelem’s range of over 70,000 parts, there is something for everyone. Both for the vehicles and for the workshop equipment. This way we can support the teams in their work in a very practical way.”
Infinity Racing used components from norelem primarily in the construction of operating equipment. Through product sponsoring, Infinity Racing was able to build transport and assembly trolleys, which were then used in the facilitating and handling of the vehicle, both in the workshop and on the track.
So, for a place on the podium, it is not only the spirit of innovation and teamwork that are important, but the way that all of the components interact.
Martin Ahner continues: “The focus is firmly on promoting young talent, which has always been one of norelem’s key goals. For us, the Racing Camp is an ideal opportunity to support the design engineers of tomorrow, and to make our brand known. So, the opportunity to be a key sponsor is just another step in the right direction.”
The VDI Racing Camp powered by norelem has seen rapidly growing numbers of participants and vehicles: from 175 students spread across 10 teams in 2016, to 500 students spread across 23 teams in 2019. After a two-year break due to the Coronavirus, 2022’s return of Racing Camp had more than 200 participants. Since 2019, the event has been organised by VDI (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure), with norelem acting as the main sponsor and therefore dubbed VDI Racing Camp Powered by norelem.
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