2014 Has been a year of ups and down for UWA Motorsport, with lots of big changes happening throughout the team. As I am sure you are all aware by now, UWAM will not be engineering a car to participate in this year’s round of competitions – a difficult decision that was finalised a few months ago in order to maintain longevity and the positive movement of the team well into the future.
Despite this heartbreaking conclusion to the 2014 build cycle, there have been a number of huge positive steps built up in the preceding few months that place us in the best starting position, with the biggest opportunity for progress and success in all areas, that we have had in at least the past 6 years.
For the first time in our history we have successfully implemented a complete recruitment program for eager new members (something that has been talked about and trailed to differing levels of success for years) which will allow us four separate intakes of students, with the current potential of 100 new members each year. So far we have seen new member retention jump from around 5-10% up to approximately 80% of all students recruited between January and March under this new system. As we develop and improve this new 6-week program we hope to continue seeing this significant positive growth in other months of recruitment.
Off the back of this recruitment and training program and the work of this year’s team leaders, the team has put itself into a situation where the complete leadership team for next year had been finalised by September – another first in UWAM’s history. This has allowed for a fundamental change and increase in our opportunities for next year, with months of handover time present and a wide range of resources now available to us in a way that there never has been before. The historically difficult task of knowledge transfer and alumni integration is now miles ahead of where it has been this early into a new build before and only looks to be getting better – with the new team now seeing the immense strength in it early and already contacting alumni from years they have had no contact with.
Another big progression for the team this year came through our fourth annual Collie trip for driver training and race team preparation. Off the back of 2013 UWAM had to say goodbye to three of our top four drivers. Now, after our most successful week in Collie, we have a driver team of 8 strong students willing to put in the time and effort to fill the shoes and surpass the success of those who have gone before them.
In the 2014 cycle we were also successful in bringing three important new sponsors into our family and we could not be happier. I am happy to say that our sponsors are pleased to continue supporting us through the difficulties that come with a non-production year and change in build cycle for the next season.
I personally, now having had time to reflect on my past months as Project Manager, have found things I would do differently given the option and decisions that I wouldn’t change for anything. Most importantly though I would like to thank three people in particular for making the year what it was and setting up the team for the strong future it has in store; Andre, the 2015 Project Manager, without whom this team certainly would not be what it is today – his input and assistance cannot be overstated in my opinion. Rowan, our Technical Director, who has gone above and beyond for the progression of our vehicles, concepts and technical team management. And Claire our Logistics Manager, who has been instrumental in setting up and maintaining a wide range of programs and initiatives that will be staples for UWAM moving into the future. They could have done it all without me but I could not have done anything without them. Thank you.
UWAM is in great hands and I cannot wait to see what comes next.
The air was tense with anticipation in the Monadelphous Integrated Learning Centre as the 2014 technical leaders took one last look at their notes and attempted to calm frazzled nerves. In early March the UWAM technical team unveiled the year’s concept to our alumni; only those who have experienced the countless hours of work and dedication towards the UWAM cars are invited to attend in order to foster critical yet understanding judgement. This was an opportunity for technical leaders to get critiqued by those who have left UWAM to join industry, where both sides of the stage get to learn.
The presentation was followed by light food and drink where team members could talk with alumni and ask them questions about what they learned through their experience in industry and at UWAM and advice they could give them. The night ended with some storytelling as past members were given a tour of the new workshop. With such a successful night the team is hoping to expand this to include our sponsors and supporters in 2015.
For the past 5 years UWAM have been going to Collie to prepare for the Australasian F-SAE competition. The camp was held in April this year, and 30 of the UWAM members attended this camp along with Greg Weryk, an old friend of the team. We took the 2002 car, Phoenix ('11) and Maali ('13) car with us for driver training and testing.
Driver training is one of the main reasons for this camp, here we teach new drivers how to follow the FSAE unique course layout and teach them techniques on how to go through the track quicker and smoother without getting penalised.
J-kart and UWAM 02 cars are used for the drivers training. J-kart helps develop the basic instinct of the level of braking and 02 challenges on fast gear shifts on the sharp FSAE track.
The drivers who showed significant progress in the training also drove Phoenix.
Throughout the week we ran joy rides, free runs and timed laps to see who cut it to the 2014 driver’s team.
Maali was used for testing and performance tweaking for the concept for the 2014 car. Suspension damper adjustment, steering damping and aerodynamic concepts were finalised on the basis of these testing and data collected.
Thanks to Pete Marsh and Greg Weryk for being such tolerant and wise driver trainers and being so patient with all the members.
A massive thanks Jason James, Motoring Southwest Manager for letting us do what we do and for being such a hospitable host.
A new and exciting avenue of the partnership for the team came to the team in the beginning of this year, with Mr Trevor Rabey kindly partnering with the team to develop and track a thorough Project Plan using Microsoft Project. Mr Rabey and the team at PPP have been worked closely with the management team throughout the year to ensure the project was on track. Project Management is an absolutely crucial aspect of the teams development and our new partners at PPP have opened a world of new opportunities for the team.
Mr John Marshall, owner of JB Performance is a new partner to the UWAM Team this year and has already had a huge influence on the teams development. Mr Marshall very kindly donated the team a race engine for 2014. Mr Marshall is a wealth of knowledge and experience in the racing industry and the team is very grateful for the support we receive from him.
The newest partner to join the UWAM family is Camco Engineering, based in WA they boast an impressive range of machining skills and capabilities. The team is excited about the opportunities that this partnership opens up and is planning to utilise this generous support early this year.
The team is in a very exciting position for the year ahead. The efforts of everyone involved in 2014 were extensive and I am proud to know such a dedicated team surrounds me leading into 2015. With many new and eager members in the leadership team, a shifted timeline and a firm objective the team is excited for what we hope to be our most innovative year yet.
The approach to the FSAE “Problem” is something that I personally find very interesting, and over my time on the team has become one of my biggest driving motivations. This idea of the “Problem” of building “The Best” racecar has allowed me some truly inspiring conversations that have opened my eyes to perspectives far grander than racecars. Dr Angus Tavner, Peter Marsh, Geoff Pearson, Matt Schrader and many others have offered me their own insights into what they believe the “Solution” to “The Problem” is, and I am always amazed by the scope of thought these discussion bring. It is this eye-opening perspective that I hope to bring to many of the members in the UWAM team through my time leading this team.
Eye opening perspectives, as I have discovered, take time and effort to communicate effectively. 2014 saw the team introduce a new motto within the team “The Driving Force of Innovation in F-SAE”. This indicates our outlook on the competition. We are all proud of the team’s history in producing cars that shake up the conventional approach and we hope to bring that UWAM spirit into the 2015 car. Innovation to us is not simply a buzzword to make us all feel good, but rather a reference that we can bring into our design and decision-making. It is an unlocking of our approach to situations, where we encourage and enable all of our members to not look at what the general answers to the problem might necessarily be, but rather why that question exists in the first place, and how else that may be achieved. It would be a great honour to leave the team with even the slightest awakening to this perspective after we have produced 2015, and with the upcoming 18 months we have planned I have no doubt that the team is going to learn an immense amount along the way.
The romance of an international racing opportunity is one of the first reasons that I joined the team. The stories shared between members of the passion and commitment that it took to produce a high performance car and then tour it around the world to compete against hundreds of Universities all striving to be the best filled me with ambition. The opportunity to be a part of a team that can do this, with the help of all of our generous supporters is something that I want every member of the team to feel connected to. It is with great excitement that we are announcing our plans to attend and compete internationally in 2016. The team is planning our “Road to Germany” campaign which will help provide us with resources enough to, once again, compete on the world stage in Hockenheim in 2016. The last time the team competed at an international event was 2009 when the 2008 team finished on the podium with a 3rd place overall and 4th in Engineering Design. The undertaking of producing a team and vehicle that can perform at the standard of the German competition is immense, however we are all extremely excited for the coming months. We look forward to sharing the Road to Germany with you.
The 2015 technical team has elected to begin with clean-sheet design of a new vehicle. A FEED, or Front-End-Engineering-Design phase has been added as a stopgap between the concept and detailed design phase, with the intention of exposing any fatal flaws hidden in concept selections, as well as providing more detailed briefs for designers and detailed cost evaluations of the concepts. The team has elected to remain with designs which focus on high yaw rate and rapid corner exit, rather than a car focused on maximum lateral acceleration capacity.
While not competing in the 2014 Australian Competition was a disappointment to all involved, we plan to take full advantage of the improved timeframe and resources this allows the team, and hope to present an innovative and impressive vehicle in 2015. The new timeline allows us to dedicate much more time to design over the summer holidays and move our manufacturing period forward to allow an increased testing and tuning phase. During the FEED phase we plan to focus on not only developing a vehicle driven by a core philosophy and delivering a well integrated solution, but to also investigate new developments including rear wheel steering, active aerodynamics and new powertrain packages.
The Team has been trialling the implementation of a new Buddy system in a new recruitment initiative taken onboard for new members. A senior member of UWAM volunteers as the “buddy” and is assigned with 4 to 5 new recruits and they go through the process of building a FSAE race car. This program runs for 6 weeks each semester and each week the buddy explains each area of the car for exp. PT, VD, Chassis, etc. The aim of this program is to recruit long term motivated members and to spark an area of interest for new members to work on. This is also a great opportunity for the existing UWAM members to share their knowledge and experience as a Mentor.
The UWAM Team is planning a Thank You Sundowner for all of our amazing sponsors and supporters. Details of the event will be sent out in the coming weeks and we are excited to see everyone there. It is set to be a great night with a presentation of our 2014 design and our plans for 2015 and 2016.
A small team of UWAM members are attending the upcoming competition in December for 5 days. The event always provides ideas and inspiration from all the other teams that are doing great work. The team is planning on doing a lot of investigation into the new track with a change in venue to Calder Park in Melbourne. The new track layout will influence the design of our 2015 car and we are hoping to learn as much as we can in our time there. We will be putting out updates of our time at the competition for everyone back home, so stay tuned.