Nick Maarhuis (Owner and designer/engineer, Airbagged Trailers, inc.)

When I was at the University of Waikato back in the mid 2000’s, FSAE was (and tbh probably still is) relatively unknown in New Zealand, but when I found out a group were looking to design and scratch-build a race car, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved. Although NZ punches above it’s weight in great race car drivers (historically the likes of Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme, and more recently, guys like Scott Dixon, Brendan Hartley and Hayden Paddon), our small population (four million) and non-existent car manufacturing industry means the likelihood of landing a job designing OEM or race cars post-FSAE was slim-to-none, and so unlike our Australian neighbors (and competitors, as the Australasian even was held in Australia), there wasn’t really any expectation of landing an automotive-based job, and hence the team members all went on to different areas of engineering. A decade or so later, after connecting on Instagram, FSAEparts.com have asked me to write an article about how FSAE helped me get to where I am now, and as I imagine the above situation is not unique to just New Zealand, I’m going to share my thoughts on FSAE and how it can benefit those not going directly into jobs designing race or production cars.

Firstly, I’d like to share my thoughts on the benefits of FSAE for engineers, but to avoid risking “preaching to the choir”, I’ll keep it fairly brief…

  • FSAE is great for getting hands-on, practical experience designing and testing physical components, operating tools (lathes, mills, etc), and working with your team and suppliers to bring large complex assemblies to a single cohesive end product. Universities wish they could teach this, but you simply can’t learn these skills in the classroom.
  • The nature of designing race car parts and finding the best engineering solutions to your goals while minimizing weight and ensuring sufficient strength, leads to great product designers in any industry. Look at almost any consumer product, and the goal is typically that it needs to be lighter, stronger, use less material, and it needs to be easier or cheaper to make, or have some other innovative advantage over other products. The desire to shave grams/ounces off each part to win races creates engineers who can then apply those same skills to create everyday consumer products that are just that bit slimmer or lighter or stronger or more reliable than the competition’s.
  • FSAE is a great, fun, interesting experience.

Now for a bit about my own journey, which is likely quite different to the path most graduate engineers take. Part of the reason for this is that I wasn’t actually a graduate engineer, as unlike most FSAE participants, I was an MSc student. Having done a Materials and Process Engineering undergrad (BSc), and then Materials Science for the masters, I shared 90% of my classes with B.Eng students and so had a similar technical understanding but different career path. After university, like many Kiwis (New Zealanders), I immediately jumped on a plane to Australia, looking for better weather, better beaches, and better pay. I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do at the time and so applied for various positions, eventually landing a job as manufacturing operations improvement consultant with a great company based in Sydney. Helping a diverse range of manufacturers improve their efficiency, quality, output, and other KPI’s was challenging and rewarding, and I was able to do that in various parts of Australia, then later the UK and also back in NZ. Although it was an enjoyable and rewarding job, my passion was always designing and creating things, and so my outlet at the time was ground-up, highly custom vehicle builds. This also enabled me to further my fabrication skills (mig and tig welding, etc) and prototyping skills, and other skills that were learnt (and developed) during FSAE, such as Solidworks 3D modelling. In 2012 I decided that although business-improvement was a great career, I’d rather follow my passions, and took a few months off work following the end of a contract so I could work out what that new path would be. With a few different ideas in mind, the one I ended up pursuing was a product I’ve named after literally what they are - Airbagged Trailers. Now being built in the USA, I have no doubt that they wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t participated in FSAE and then taken those lessons, developed them further and then combined them with other learnings from consulting in various manufacturing industries. Going forward my goals are to continue developing the business while also creating other new products, but with more motorsport focus. One of these is an active-aero product that was recently submitted for a provisional patent, but that may be a story for another article.

For the engineering students reading this, I feel I should probably end on some advice, which is that I think it’s not so critical what path you take after your studies, as long as you work hard and always strive for excellence, and preferably you do what you love doing. FSAE can be a great part of that journey, and if you don’t get a job in motorsports afterwards, it doesn’t mean you can’t at some later point get back into the industry in another way.

Nick Maarhuis

Airbagged Trailers

www.airbaggedtrailers.com

 

 

Airbagged Trailers

Airbagged Trailers

Airbagged Trailers

Book List

  1. Chassis Engineering/Chassis Design, Building & Tuning for High Performance Handling by Herb Adams
  2. Competiton Car Suspension: Design, Construction, Tuning by Allan Staniforth
  3. Race Car Chassis: Design and Construction [Powerpro] by Forbes Aird
  4. Engineer to Win: The Essential Guide to Racing Car Materials Technology or How to Build Winners Which Don't Break by Carroll Smith
  5. Tune to Win by Carroll Smith
  6. How to Make Your Car Handle by Fred Puhn
  7. Supercharging, Turbocharging, & Nitrous Oxide Performance Handbook [Powerpro] by Earl Davis, Diane Davis
  8. Maximum Boost: Designing, Testing, and Installing Turbocharger Systems by Corky Bell
  9. Turbochargers by Hugh MacInnes
  10. Supercharged! Design, Testing and Installation of Supercharger Systems by Corky Bell
  11. Four-Stroke Performance Tuning by A. Graham Bell
  12. Engine Management: Optimizing Carburettors, Fuel Injection and Ignition Systems by Dave Walker
  13. Fiberglass & Composite Materials: An Enthusiast's Guide to High Performance Non-Metallic Materials for Automotive Racing and Marine Use by Forbes Aird
  14. Racer's Encyclopedia of Metals, Fibers & Materials by Forbes Aird
  15. Competition Car Composites: A Practical Guide by Simon McBeath, Brian O'Rourke
  16. Race and Rally Car Source Book by Allan Stansiforth
  17. Drive to Win: The Essential Guide to Race Driving
    by Carroll Smith
  18. Race Car Vehicle Dynamics (R146) by William F. Milliken, Douglas L. Milliken
  19. THE RACING & HIGH-PERFORMANCE TIRE, Using the Tires to Tune for Grip and Balance (R-351) by Paul Haney
  20. Inside Racing Technology: Discussions of Racing Technical Topics by Paul Haney, Jeff Braun
  21. Speed Secrets: Professional Race Driving Techniques by Ross Bentley
  22. Speed Secrets 2: More Professional Race Driving Techniques by Ross Bentley
  23. Inner Speed Secrets Mental Strategies to Maximize Your Racing Performance: Strategies to Maximize Your Racing Performance by Ross Bentley, Ronn Langford
  24. Going Faster! Mastering the Art of Race Driving by Carl Lopez, Danny Sullivan
  25. Ayrton Senna's Principles of Race Driving by Ayrton Senna
  26. Winning: A Race Drivers Handbook by George A. Anderson
  27. Data Power: Using Racecar Data Acquisition: A Practical Guide to: Selection and Setup Data Interpretation Trackside Operation by Buddy Fey
  28. Competition Car Data Logging: A Practical Handbook by Simon McBeath
  29. Advanced Race Car Suspension Development by Steve Smith
  30. Race Car Engineering and Mechanics (Book and CD ROM ed) [R-308] by Paul Van Valkenburgh
  31. Race Car Aerodynamics: Designing for Speed by Joseph Katz
  32. Competition Car Downforce: A Practical Handbook by Simon McBeath, Gordon Murray
  33. Chassis Design: Principles and Analysis Milliken 0768008263
  34. ACL Engine Manual 1991 0855666803
  35. Bosch Automotive Handbook 2000 0837606144
  36. How To Build Horsepower, 1990, Vizard, D., S-A Design Books, 0931472245
  37. Measurement Of Gas Flow By Means Of Critical Flow Venturi Nozzles, ISO 9300:1995
  38. Diffuser Data Book, Runstadler, P.W. 1975, Creare Inc., Technical Notes 186
  39. Flow patterns in venturis nozzles and orifices, Film.
  40. Claude Roulle Notes

 

 

List originally started on fsae.com/forums by:

Mechanicaldan

Cyclone Racing
www.cyclone-racing.com/fhome.htm
Iowa State University
Project Director

For original link to list click here.

 

Performance Racing Industry Trade Show (PRI) 

December 11-13, 2014

Indiana Convention Center, USA

General Info

 

------------------------------

I have been attending the PRI show since 2007 and have traveled to shows all around the world: SEMA in Las Vegas (http://www.semashow.com/), The Professional Motorsports show in Cologne Germany (http://www.professionalmotorsport-expo.com/), and even the Autosport International show in Birmingham UK (http://www.performancecarshow.com/).

Out of all these shows, PRI is among the best. 

I strongly encourage every team that can, to attend PRI. It is the best place to meet potential sponsors and thank current sponsors, and also a great way to meet the big whales in the industry. The head men and women of all the companies are there at the show walking around. Its the perfect time to introduce yourself and pursue a job with companies your actually interested in. Nothing beats meeting the owner of a company in person. When you meet face to face they get to know the real you and not some words and numbers on a paper in a stack of a thousand others just like it. Every connection I have and job I have landed was originally formed at PRI. For those that know me - let's face it - If I turned in a resume to some random "info@no_onecares.com" the person or computer on the other side would assume I was a 3 year old monkey that could sign a few words. 

I am not paid by PRI or have any affiliation with PRI in any way. I just really enjoy the show and want to inform as many teams out there as I can. I know this show will be a benefit to a team as a whole and to individuals pursuing future careers in racing. 

Here is a link that shows some highlights of last years show.

2013 PRI Highlights

 

Helpful Tips

  • Registering for the show:
    • In a weekly team meeting (Which every team should do), talk about the show and get a list of team member interested in attending the show.
    • Register you team here as a whole and then include the members wanting to attend. If you have any questions you can contact Carrie Menna. Phone: +1 (949) 499- 5413 ext 3036, Email: Carriannem@performanceracing.com
  • Attending the show:
    • Have all team members dress alike in team apparel (Do not dress like kids off the street). Wear nice jeans or dress pants, Button down shirt or polo. 

OK

 

NOT OK 

 

    • Make business cards for team members. This is a professional show, so first impression is key. Click here for a good link for some cheap business cards.  
    • Make a team brochure or pamphlet that list some key features about your team. A lot of teams make a "sponsor packet" that lists what the team has done in the past and what they plan to do. It also lists other sponsors and describes how to become a sponsor. My tip on this is to make it short and sweet; something that catches their eye. If you hand them a novel they will not read it at all. Make it one page front and back, and make sure it looks clean and professional. State on there that you have more information if they are interested.
    • Bring Resumes! PRI is a great "career fair" if you're looking for a job in racing.
  • Dealing with Current Sponsors:
    • Make a list of all current sponsors that will be attending the show so you can visit them. Click here to see the list of vendors attending the show. You can also print out a map and circle your sponsors booths. 
    • Bring a thank you plaque, picture, or anything to say thank you to current sponsors. The biggest complaint I hear from companies that sponsor teams is that the teams do not act like they appreciate it.  Make them feel like they are the best! Become their friends! Stroke their egos and they will do anything they can for you. 
    • Swing by their booth every so often and see how the show is going for them.
    • Bring other teams or people you know or have met by your sponsors booth and show them all the cool stuff they have. (Remember, stroke that ego)
    • Help tear down their booth! It sucks after being at the show all week you have to tear down your booth before you can leave the building. Help them tear down their booth so they can get out of there and go have a drink. They might even ask you to join them. 
  • Dealing with Potential Sponsors:
    • Make a list of all potential sponsors that will be attending the show. Click here to see the list of vendors attending the show. You can also print out a map and circle your potential sponsors booths. 
    • I strongly recommend dividing up the list of potential sponsors among the team-mates attending the show. You want to have the team-mate that knows the most about the company's product to go and talk to that company. You do not want 6 different team-mates trying to pitch a sponsorship deal to the same company. One, it is very annoying if you are the company and two, it makes a team look very unorganized.  
    • Tips on landing a sponsor:
      •  I have several techniques I use to land a sponsorship deal. I have taught a few people as well. It take determination and a lot of practice. I can't share all my secrets though. Part of the challenge is to find techniques that work for you and practice. If you know me personally and want some help with this, I would be more than happy to help out. Just contact me. I can also walk around with you at the show.
      • When you walk up to a booth. Get off your phone. Don't look at the ground or your feet when you walk. Look confident and be on your game. Start to think about what your going to say. Be knowledgeable about the product the company has to offer. You can either start looking at a product and wait for someone to approach you or you can approach someone in the booth. It is really up to you and what you feel comfortable with.
      • When you start talking to someone, try to remember their name and figure out what their position is. If you are looking for free stuff, I have learned that for the most part, sales people don't really care if you get free stuff or not. So just poke around and see if you can figure out who is in charge or who is going to be interested in what you have to say. (Remember. Tell them how much you like their stuff. Stroke their ego a little) 
      • From what I have seen, the person in charge is usually sitting in the back at a table on his phone while everyone else is standing and talking to people. That is the guy you want to try to talk to. 
      • Make sure to get business cards and write down on the back as soon as you can to remind yourself later what you discussed with that person.
  •  Following up after the show
    • Contact each potential sponsor you talked to via email and thank them for meeting with you and showing you their stuff.
    • Contact current sponsors and thank them for meeting with you.
    • Send them a pdf of a more in-depth sponsor packet. Have your achievements and goals clearly listed in the packet. 
    • It is also a good idea to have short bios of every "real" team members in the sponsor packet. Have team members write up a bio about themselves following an outline so all bios will be in the same format.  Have them list there strengths, what projects they have done or are currently working on, and also what they want to do. This will help connect team members to companies who are potentially looking to hire engineers. 

Remember, these are just some tips that have worked out well for me and different people/teams may have more success with different approaches. At the end of the day, everyone's experience at PRI can be a little different, but using these general tips and tricks should help guide you in the right direction to having a successful and enjoyable PRI trade show. 

 

We will be at PRI this year along with our partners so come by and visit us! 

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments. Hope to see you there! 

    Team Structure

    March 01, 2014

    0 comments

    We have helped several teams over the last few years organize and structure their team. Two of us here at FSAEparts.com have lead teams and have been on a formula team for more than 6 years. We feel that we have a pretty good understanding of team structure as well as what generally works and what doesn't work.

     

    There are several different ways to set up your team, some work better than others and ultimately what works best for your team depends on the people you have. Here are some of our thoughts on general team structure that should help you get started:

    1) Set up a team hierarchy like you might see in a professional race team.

    2) Have 1 overall team leader

    • Stay away from co-captains; it may sound appealing but rarely works out. 
    • Role of team captain:
      • Manages and organizes the whole team
      • Sets and runs team meetings
      • Drives the goal-setting process, and holds team accountable
      • Is the face of the team (both internally and externally) - interacts with the school/sponsors/etc.
    • This person will gather the troops, have the final say in team disputes, and to take the blame for mistakes. 
    • Make sure that the team captain is leading by example
      • He/she should be the most motivated, driven, and hard-working individual on the team.
      • The best way to have authority is to gain your team's respect. Do this by showing you are willing to work harder than anyone else to make sure that goals are met.
    • It's a fine line, but the captain needs to understand when to be strict/firm (being a borderline asshole) and when to be friendly and flexible. Being too much strict/uptight will drive your teammates away - they won't want to listen, let alone work with you, and probably won't want to come to you for help/questions. Being too nice may get people to like you, but your teammates will likely walk all over you, blowing off deadlines and slacking on their tasks.
    • In the end, this should be someone the team looks up to, respects, and can rely on.

    3) Split up into system sub-teams

    • Instead of having one large group, organize into smaller system specific teams (i.e. powertrain, suspension, body/frame, etc.)
    • Each sub-team should have it's own leader that reports to the overall team lead. This way the team will act as a governed body.
      • Each sub-team should have weekly meetings to discuss plans for the upcoming week and problems from the previous week. 
      • Each week the leads should meet and report all the comments and concerns from their team to the overall team lead. This will help the overall team captain from being to busy to deal with every team members problems. 
      • At the end of every week, there should be one big overall meeting. Where the team captain addresses all the issues from the leaders meeting and informs the team for the upcoming week. 

    4) System Leads.

    • The leader for each system sub team is responsible for managing and organizing his/her group.
      • Helps develop goals/timelines for the group's parts and tasks, and makes sure these items are met.
      • As mentioned before, holds meetings with his/her team to address issues, update task lists, develop goals, etc.
    • Reports to overall team captain so he/she is up to date with each group's progress.
    • Meet and communicate with other system leads to ensure all necessary information is getting to everyone that needs it.
    • Ultimately responsible for his/her sub-team's success.

      5) Finance/Marketing Lead

      • Right hand of the team captain and helps with some of the administrative responsibilities. 
        • Manages finances, bookkeeping 
        • Plans events such as the unveiling, banquets, recruitment events, etc.
        • Helps manage business side of competition (Cost and Sales Presentation)
      • Depending of the number of people or interest on the team, there should be a group working under this individual. Also with regards to a small team size, some of these responsibilities may be shared/fall upon the role of team captain.

      6) Volunteers

      • These are usually participants that may not have officially assigned responsibilities, but are interested and willing to help out with the project. For example, if FSAE is a senior design project at your school, these can be underclassmen or non-credit seeking team members.
      • Will generally take on support roles for the official team members
        • Help manufacture/assemble parts
        • Assist with testing
        • Assist with administrative, PR, marketing, and business tasks
      • Having a well rounded group of volunteers can prove extremely handy especially when approaching important deadlines - they can help alleviate the burden faced by the rest of the team.
      • There should be a volunteer lead for this group; holds meetings, stays in contact with team leads, rounds up volunteers to help out with various tasks throughout the season.

         

        "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." —John Maxwell