The initial design challenges being proposed by GDJ Inc. are the design challenges that are the easiest to implement to get the program started. There are other design challenges that can be added in the future to allow the program to cover a wider range of disciplines.
Students will design a car body to achieve the lowest possible drag coefficient. To make the design challenge realistic students will be required to design a body around a set minimum frontal area (body height and width at the largest part of the body) This will keep the challenge from being a contest to make the smallest body. This will make it more realistic. Car designers could drastically reduce the drag of the current automobile is they required the driver and passengers to lie down.
Students will be able to utilize resources that many schools already have such as Computer Drafting Programs, CNC Mills and Vacuum forming machinery to design and manufacture their own car bodies. Many of the small CNC milling machines in the schools technology labs would be capable of machining 1/4th of the car body. The four sections could be put together to make the mold. If the schools do not have the required equipment they may be able to collaborate with a local business to accomplish the needed task.
Testing: To accurately test the car bodies will require a wind tunnel with at least an 18” x 18” cross section test section with a beam designed specifically for the cars. GDJ Inc. is currently designing a 24” x 24” test section wind tunnel with a custom sting balance capable of testing the car bodies. We realize that the cost of the wind tunnel may take it outside the budget of some schools. In this case the students could send their car body to GDJ Inc. and we will test their design for them. With the advancements of graphical software the students will be able to operate the wind tunnel and receive real time data from the test in progress via the internet. In fact, most companies do not own wind tunnels capable of performing the testing they require and the testing is done utilizing this method. GDJ will look into the possibility of obtaining a grant to operate the wind tunnel to provide the service at a very low or no cost to the schools.
This actually can be a separate design challenge where the team with the lowest drag coefficient scores point. This again will be an opportunity to have the design drawings and test preparation methods evaluated.
2) Road Course challenge:
The road handling aspect of the modern automobile has become very important in the design of the vehicle. Things such as the cornering ability and ride smoothness could provide a very interesting design challenge. The students will be provided a data acquisition system capable of measuring cornering g-forces, roll angles and steering input, along with an accelerometer to measure vibration and shock loads. The students will be required to design a vehicle that can navigate a specific course in quickest time and drive over a series of obstacles with the lowest shock force to the passengers. By adding the obstacle shock force part of the competition this will again force the students to compromise in their final design. The rock hard suspension setup that wins the cornering competition will lose the vibration shock test. The wind tunnel testing can also be expanded from drag coefficient to measure front and rear down force. This design challenge could easily be done as either Stock with the students utilizing the components provide for the optimum set-up or Modified where students make their own suspension components.
3) Computer Vehicle Control:
Students will be required to program the vehicle to navigate around a pre-determined course controlled by a computer program. Other forms of vehicle computer control can also be added to the road course challenge such as traction control and yaw control.
These are just examples of additional design contest that the program could offer. It would be very easy to add additional challenges once students become proficient with a particular challenge. For example a loading device can be added to the dynamometer to require the students to design a vehicle that is pulling a trailer.