The Illini Formula Electric team will compete in the 2014 Formula Hybrid International Competition at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH and the Formula SAE Electric Competition in Lincoln, Nebraska. Moving to a fully electric vehicle, they are improving their car’s reliability by using fully custom controls instrumentation completed last year. They will use the latest in water-cooled, light-weight induction motors for improved performance, optimizing the drivetrain with a planetary gear set for added torque and reliability, upgrading the suspension for improved handling and ride height, re-engineering the brake discs to reduce heating, and have constructed a completely new chassis optimized for an electric powertrain. The team will innovate by redesigning the entire accumulator system to reduce overall weight and increase energy storage. These improvements should prove, once again, to provide students with an exceptional engineering experience while improving competition standings and establishing Illini Formula Electric as a contender in the newly formed Electric SAE competitions.
The year’s Illini team, 242 members strong, is drawn from ECE, Aerospace Engineering, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Bioengineering, Chemistry, Bio-molecular Engineering, Computer Science, General Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Business, and other departments with 29 women and 198 men. There are fifteen team leaders, and one group or another meets every single day to work on the car. The team is a student-managed and operated collaborative project. Students are responsible for everything from recruitment and fundraising to component design and manufacturing. Students conceptualize, design, simulate, manufacture, integrate, and test with minimal faculty guidance. This hands-off approach promotes leadership skills, including project planning, time management, communication, and personal responsibility. University of Illinois faculty and staff restrict themselves to teaching engineering theory and providing general guidance.
Illini Formula Electric expects to have their vehicle complete by Engineering Open House, March 2014, when they will test it at the State Farm Center (Assembly Hall) parking lot. Dan Bernacki is the Team Captain and Gabe Benavides and Professor Krein the team advisors. Sponsors include Continental, Yaskawa, John Deere, National Instruments, Caterpillar, Cummins Power Systems Nokia, Littelfuse, Motorola Foundation, Dynapar, TE Connectivity, Griggs and Stratton Racing, Plymouth Tube Co, SKF, Midtronics, Airtech, Graybar, Lockheed Martin, AO Smith, BS Solid works, IFoundry, Wicks Aircraft Supply, Huntsman, Omron, Plascore, Bender, Gamma Technologies Manifesto, Gates, APT Powdercoating, and the University of Illinois through Student Organization Fees; the ECE, Aerospace, and Mechanical Science and Engineering Departments; the ECE Annual fund, and the College of Engineering Design Council.