One of Sheridan’s biggest student engineering projects finally saw the light this past weekend at Formula North — an international race car engineering design competition. Sheridan Motorsports’ race car – named SR1a – made its debut on the track in Barrie, Ontario, to earn the very first competition score of our school’s history.
The competition has many categories but the challenge isn’t all about driving or the car’s performance. It is also about our ability as students to design, manufacture and test a car we built with our hands from scratch. SR1a took us two and half years to complete. In this challenge we also have to think about the business of the industry by applying cost-analysis and project management skills to get the car up to market standards.
The team achieved the goal this season but it wasn’t without its moments of anxiety and unforeseen challenges. We competed in every part of the ‘dynamic’ portions of the event which consist of acceleration, skid pad, autocross and the endurance run. The moment our first driver, and team founder, Kenneth Faria put the car in gear and begun revving up the engine’s speed at the acceleration drag strip, every team member watching behind the fence was trying to ease their nervous tension while waiting for the green flag signalling that he could go. The car launched forward very quickly along the strip, clearing the 75 metre acceleration run in 4.5 seconds — that’s the equivalent of going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 3.6 seconds; which is even faster than what a 2014 Corvette Stingray can do! It was a solid run. There were no hiccups at that point. Our car really showed off its power.
“As the captain, I had a great chance during the competition to witness the team’s outstanding strength in problem solving and team work” – Joseph Yang
But then during the autocross event, the car’s left-front lower suspension arm broke right after our first heat. After a brief moment of stunned silence, we moved the car off the race track, back to the pit area to determine what the problem was. The damage was so devastating that the car could not be driven unless it was fixed very quickly. Kenneth looked at the time and asked me: “Do we still have a chance?” Although I wasn’t too sure, it seemed possible to fix the suspension and get the car back on the track with enough time to get back in the race. So I replied: “Let’s get to work.”
After a few fast minutes of discussion, Ron Perera, a team member in charge of fabrication and welding, took the lead in the repair. I supported Ron by visiting other teams to borrow a welding machine for the repair, and every member found his own task to help speed up the process. It was like watching a well-lubricated gearbox meshing. Within an hour and a half, the car was put back together with a new suspension arm, ready to race. It was simply amazing. With only 20 minutes left, we pushed the car back to the track and completed the remaining two laps to successfully finish the day’s event.
As the captain, I had a great chance during the competition to witness the team’s outstanding strength in problem solving and team work. The time at the competition flew by so quickly because we were having so much fun. Sheridan Motorsports secured 18th place overall but even though we didn’t win, it was the weekend where all our hard work paid off. Being part of the creative culture in the field of engineering, competing at the same level with universities as the only college team made me and all of us proud. I will definitely be talking about this as I shift into ‘drive’ for my career. It’s an experience that me and the team will never forget.
Pictured at top of page: Joseph Yang kneeling next to the Sheridan race car SR1a
Written by: Joseph Yang, a third-year Sheridan Engineering student.