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Designing and Building Competitive Hybrid Electric Racing Vehicles as a Valued Teaching and Learning Method for Undergraduate Engineering Students: A Two-year Review with a Projection of Future Plans

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Innovative Energy Projects

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.408.1 - 25.408.22



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Paper Authors


Robert W. Fletcher Lawrence Technological University

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Robert W. Fletcher joined the faculty of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Lawrence Technological University in the summer of 2003, after several years of continuous industrial research, product development and manufacturing experience. Fletcher earned his bachelor's of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Washington, in Seattle, Wash., a master's of engineering in manufacturing systems from Lawrence Technological University, in Southfield, Mich., and master's of science and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering focusing on electrochemical engineering, both from the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. He teaches a number of alternative energy courses and is leading LTU’s efforts to establish a full energy engineering program that addresses both alternative and renewable energy systems, as well as energy conservation and optimization of traditional energy systems. He also is the Director of the Alternative Energy program at Lawrence Tech.

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Designing and building competitive hybrid electric racing vehicles as a valued teaching and learning method for undergraduate engineering students; a two year review with a projection of future plansAlternative Energy hybrid electric vehicles with on-board electric energy storage, such asadvanced lithium-ion batteries, are a rapidly developing area in the automotive industry.Engineering students with knowledge and experience in this field are in high demand inautomotive companies. XXXX Technological University has been involved in the design,development, and building of two series hybrid electric competitive racing vehicles. Thesestudent-run team’s racing vehicles are built to compete in the SAE Formula Hybrid© competition,typically held during the first week of May in at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Louden,New Hampshire. The challenges and benefits of the more familiar SAE Formula© competitionare well documented and are now a common element of most mechanical engineering schools inboth the US and around the globe. The SAE Formula Hybrid© competition, however, is still verymuch a smaller competition with fewer entrants, typically 25 to 35 teams. From a design andbuild perspective the hybrid competition involves a much broader field of skill sets from studentsto deliver a successfully operating vehicle. While there are common design elements to the morewell-known SAE Formula© car, the hybrid car requires much more electrical and computerinterface design aspects to the overall project that are unique to hybrid vehicles. On-board energystorage in batteries, design of safe on-board electrical systems that are noise and trouble free, andthat can be externally charged, rengerative braking and electric generators and motors are allexclusive to hybrid car design. Important basic questions such as should the vehicle be a series orparallel power system design have dramatic impact on how a team will proceed. These uniquedesign features and alternative energy aspects of hybrid vehicles make this an ideal real-worldsenior design and university-based student club project. As a result there are valuable teachingand learning opportunities for students, and faculty, in this rapidly developing future growth areaof the automotive field. XXXX Tech has now participated in this competition over the past twoyears (2010 and 2011) and intends to enter another competition vehicle in 2012. This paperreviews the efforts of those past two years and discusses the key aspects of the design anddevelopment process, the importance of on-board energy storage and the related energyengineering considerations, and the learning process students have now gone through over thosepast two years. Student feedback and their assessment data are included to augment theunderstanding of the overall project outcomes. Intended future direction and activities are alsodiscussed. Lastly, a review of possible benefits to a school’s academic and educational programswhich focus on the electrification of the automobile, and hybrid vehicles in general, and howthey could potentially help current engineering programs, including the recruitment of futurestudents from such a project are included.

Fletcher, R. W. (2012, June), Designing and Building Competitive Hybrid Electric Racing Vehicles as a Valued Teaching and Learning Method for Undergraduate Engineering Students: A Two-year Review with a Projection of Future Plans Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21166

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