Wits engineering students hit the road

melissa-care.jpgPhoto Courtesy of Adam Rossman

A TEAM of eight Mechanical Engineering students had the time of their lives this past weekend, when they showed off and raced their model car.
This is an annual competition that has been running for the past 12 years. Wits have taken part in the last eight. The aim of the competition is “basically, to put theoretical knowledge into practice, as well as learning how to work in a team,” said 2nd year and team captain, Adam Rossman.
The guys said that the project was independent from their coursework and as a result they did not get funding from the university.
“A car like this costs a minimum of R20 000 to build,” said Rossman.
This year, they were sponsored by The Yellow Pages.
It took a whole year to build. Mechanical Engineering lecturer, John Stires, and team leader Gerard Hamilton guided the team in building their model car.
The race was held at the Geratek Testing Facilities which is close to Hartebeespoort.
Universities and technikons from all over the country took part.
Three teams from India came down to take part and in previous years, there were students from Delhi and Iran also taking part.
The two day competition was divided into sections that gave points for design detail, breaks, manoeuverability, top speed and acceleration, traction pull and hill climb.
It also included a four – hour race, around the track. The top cars managed something like 60 or so laps around the track in four hours. They had to brave a tough terrain of muddy ditches, rocky slopes and lots of dirt.
Chris De Saxe, also in 2nd year, was responsible for ergonomics (driver comfort and acceleration). He ensured that the rocky drive was as comfortable as possible.
The car took poll position for having the top speed and quickest acceleration of 44 km/h. “It has been higher in previous years, where top speed reached 56km/h,” said Tim Hall who was responsible for steering, design and suspension.
In the early part of the race, the Wits team managed to hold 2nd place but then started to experience steering problems and a bending plate. This caused them to have a pit stop every half hour. The result was that they only completed 20 laps. Top teams in the race completed around 60 laps in four hours.
Rossman and David Berman worked on transmission and drive train of the car and Dylan Hemer, Nick Sim and John Hancock who also formed part of the team, worked on various aspects that had to do with building the car.

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