Organized at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the 2012 edition of the SAE Formula Hybrid competition was the last ever that Dr. Robert Todd would ever participate in as an advisor for the Mechanical Engineering Capstone program at BYU. To make sure that the veteran of 21 years got his last hurrah in some style, the engineering students from the institute designed and built a formula hybrid racecar, under the professor’s keen eye of course, named Hybrid Blue that took first place at the international event held last week.
The longtime Capstone advisor had been working with BYU for over two decades though the Mechanical Engineering Capstone program students participating in the SAE Formula Hybrid races over the past four years had been focusing on building more challenging versions of formula hybrid cars. The victorious current car is the culmination of over seven years of hard work and pays a fitting tribute to the man who oversaw more than six hundred projects over the past two decades of the Capstone program.
The team improved upon the first runner up design from last year and built the racer for this year’s event from the ground up. Competing against teams from 40 universities across the U.S., a team of 16 engineering students from BYU created the winning car for the 2012 Formula Hybrid event. After passing the technical specification inspection, the Hybrid Blue set a competition record in the acceleration event, took first spot in the endurance event and also competed in the top in the agility race and the autocross event.
To provide the racecar with optimum fuel economy without affecting performance during the event, the Hybrid Blue was given an E-85 Fuel- and 72 li-polymer cell-run battery- compatible engine that outputs 450-pounds-per-feet torque and has a 100 hp output. This allowed the vehicle to have fuel left over in the tank as well as over 75 percent of spare charge on the fully topped up battery during the 22 kilometer-long endurance run in the event.
To give the car a lot of agility as well as acceleration, the Dr. Todd-led team focused on making the car as lightweight as they possibly could. The final race car thus, shed over 80 lbs thanks to a 14 inch shortening of the frame from the model that competed last year. The victory not only tops up a great career for the famed Capstone advisor but also provides a great mechanical platform on which the formula racers of the future could be developed.