Closing the 2023 Season
This blog post serves to officially send off our 2023 competition season and welcome in the next year of Duke University Motorsports. There are so many people we have to thank, so much great work that was done this year, and so many more amazing things to come. Thank you and congratulations to everyone on this team for a great year. Thank you to seniors The team would like to extend its gratitude to our recently graduated seniors. Without your expertise, determination, and commitment, the team would not be where it is today. We’d like to extend an extra special thank you to our outgoing Chief Engineer and President, Josh Klinger and Alexandra Gray. To all our new alumni, we miss you and thank you for your years of hard work. Thank you to sponsors Without our sponsors, Duke University Motorsports would not be able to accomplish any of its goals. The team provides a unique opportunity for Duke undergraduate students to gain real-world, hands-on experience in an environment completely different from the classroom. Our team is able to provide so much for our students and our community each and every year because of our sponsors and their ongoing support. We thank you for another great year and hope to continue to connect with you through our next competition season.
Summary of this year Our team had ambitious goals this year, with many major redesigns across the car and great work from all subsystems. Starting with suspension, the team moved to revamp the vehicle’s kinematic setup. This involved setting targets for 10+ metrics and running more than 50 optimization simulations over the course of about two months. Beyond suspension kinematics, Vehicle Dynamics members made strides in other areas as well, including the team’s first ever center-locking wheel assembly, a brand-new brakes system including a custom pedal box, adjustable bell cranks, suspension linkages, and anti-roll bars. To accommodate the new suspension kinematics, the team endeavored to design a brand-new chassis for the first time in 11 years. Having set ambitious weight and torsional stiffness goals of 30kg and 1850 Nm/deg respectively, the team worked through more than 70 iterations before arriving at a final design. The 2023 chassis weighed in at 29.7 kg with a torsional stiffness of 1977 Nm/deg. Powertrain made major strides this year as well. Though working with the same model of engine as in year’s previous, Powertrain members worked to improve the surrounding systems. This included successfully running a turbocharger for the first time in the team’s history and designing and manufacturing a custom composite plenum which weighed about half as much as its predecessor. On the drivetrain side, the team worked with Autotech to source a Drexler Adjustable v3 differential, which has given the team a much greater ability to tune vehicle handling to driver and event preference. The team also developed an in-house acceleration model, which enabled many novel modes of optimization. Finally, Powertrain members implemented custom shifting and clutch mechanism, making the car substantially easier to drive. The Aerodynamics team achieved an 8% increase in downforce, while sustaining just a 2.6% increase in drag over last year’s vehicle. Aerodynamics members worked to redesign the front wing, rear wing, floor, nose, sidepods, and body work to produce the team’s most cohesive aero package to date. The Electrical Systems team played a major role in tying the vehicle together this year, collecting data from all kinds of sensors like wheel speed sensors to shock potentiometers, and controlling servo motors used for shifting, clutch, and DRS. Electrical Systems members designed a custom Brake System Plausibility Device (BSPD) for this year’s vehicle, capable of safely shutting off the car in the case of a failure while using Electronic Throttle Control. All told, the vehicle weighed in at 467 lbs without a driver. It took its first steps on Research Drive on April 14, before competing at a scrimmage event at Kennesaw State on April 15. The team completed a successful testing day with Clemson Formula SAE on April 16, and many testing days in Circuit Lot on campus to follow. Finally, the team attended Formula SAE Michigan at the Michigan International Speedway from May 17 to May 20.
The Competition At Formula SAE Michigan May this year, the team passed static technical inspection on its first try, as the 13th team to complete the process on Wednesday, the first day. After completing inspection early in the day on Wednesday, team members had the opportunity to make minor tweaks to the car’s setup, walk to paddocks and speak with other teams, and network with sponsors and industry professionals. On the second day of competition, the team completed the tilt test, and the noise inspection. On Friday morning, the team passed the brakes test, officially surpassing its benchmark from 2022, and completing technical inspection. For the rest of the day on Friday, we got to do what we do best–drive. The team completed the Skidpad event first, followed by autocross, and then finally acceleration. Over the course of Friday afternoon, the team successfully completed all 12 dynamic runs, a huge feat for us as a team.
On Saturday morning, we started the day early for a track walk of the endurance course. The team slated to drive the endurance event toward the end of the morning session. The car made it through about 4.5 laps before a mechanical failure in the wheel assembly brought our run to a premature end. Our driver – Josh Klinger – skillfully brought the car to a safe stop. He was unharmed, as was the rest of the vehicle. In the GoPro footage, you can hear him say, “That was the most fun I’ve had in my entire life”. Despite not finishing endurance, the team was thrilled with this result. Michigan May 2023 represented the culmination of a year’s worth of tireless efforts on the part of more than 30 team members. The lessons learned, the friendships formed, and the experiences had will stick with us for many years to come. Our overall results out of 120 teams in each of the competition events were as follows: Overall – 59 Design – 54 Cost – 71 Business – 14 Acceleration – 48 Skidpad – 59 Autocross – 48 Endurance – DNF
New Leadership The team is excited to announce its new executive board for the 2023-2024 season. President – Connor Gregg Chief Engineer – Noah Falbaum Treasurer – Cody Rosolowsky Subsystem lead appointments for the 2023-2024 season are as follows: Aerodynamics – Cody Rosolowsky and Heath Springman Chassis – Ritwik Bhattacharjee Electrical Systems – Nathaniel Asia and Neel Runton Facilities Manager – Heath Springman Operations – Jamie Wang Powertrain – Alec Anderson and Malcolm McQueeney Vehicle Dynamics – David Gorman and Pedro Navarro This team has done great work for the 2023 season and will continue to do so for years to come. As a team still reckoning with coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have come so far in rekindling the spirit and drive that makes up Duke University Motorsports. Thank you again to our seniors, sponsors, alumni, and all others who make this team possible. Celebrate another fantastic year with us as we push forward with summer design—there is much more yet to come.