The single seater electric go-kart produced by PCC and Caltech students unleash an ear-splitting roar with an engine capable of traveling up to 80 miles per hour.
The PCC Lancer Motorsports club is one of the few programs on a community college campus that has the privilege of participating in the national Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) competition. The FSAE event is the leading motivation for the club to build an electric car.
Started in 1980, the student design competition FSAE is a very well renowned collegiate design competition that takes place every summer, where hundreds of students from all over the world showcase championship race cars.
“When we’re at FSAE competitions we see Canadians coming in, people from France and all over the country,” club president Miche Moral said. “The competition overall is very collective.”
There is a wide variety of unique segments throughout the competition that test the many different metrics each team’s car could be judged by. To name a few there is endurance, cornering and efficiency tests.
“Judges from FSAE come around and judge your car and ask why you made certain decisions in the production process” said ICC representative Noah Tingey.
The Lancer Motorsports club competes in the fully electric division, while there is also the eternal combustion division using regular engines. There is also hybrid, auto-drive and many other divisions that showcase other car designs the day of the competition.
Mr Wheels is the name of the first car that PCC Lancer Motorsports collaborated on with Cal-Tech. It was showcased in Lincoln Nebraska at the 2019 FSAE competition. Mr. Wheels served as a competitive car last year and now it is used as a parade car in a sense, to show off the team’s impressive abilities and work for sponsorship opportunities.
At the 2019 Nebraska FSAE competition, Lancer Motorsports and Cal-Tech’s electric car, was expected to withstand a number of different testing events involving durability, maneuverability and reliability.
“You really go through the entire process of designing a car, not many clubs could really give you that,” said the club treasurer Monica Campos.
Primarily the FSAE competition is only in the four-year university circuit, the average community college student does not get the opportunity to be a part of an FSAE competition until they transfer out into a Cal State, UC or private institution.
“That’s what really started it for us, my co-founder Daniel Melinda and I were really excited to compete in this competition, but as a community college it was a little out of grasp for what our school was able to provide,” Holden said.
“In 2018 the club officially started their collaboration with the four year private institution Caltech, which legally permits them to showcase their hard work in the FSAE competition as a community college.
“Caltech was really gracious and offered each student a volunteer ID,” Holden continued.
This allowed both clubs to collaborate on one car.
In addition to being vice president, today Greg Holden also acts as an advisor to students who will be transitioning into the board, after he transfers out.
“I first saw the team during club rush day,” Tingey, an aerospace engineering major said. “I gave them a side eye and decided I didn’t want to get roped into something at that moment. Later on a friend eventually roped me into going and I got pretty hooked.”
The Lancer Motorsports club functions as its own entity in which they work solely as a PCC club, hosting their own events with guest speakers and tutorials. The second side of the club is the work done in collaboration with Caltech.
The dynamic between PCC’s Lancer Motorsports club and Caltech’s Racing club aims to be collective and efficient.. The electric car that both teams share and create together is kept in Caltech’s garage, but much of the car’s manufacturing production time is spent in both Caltech and PCC facilities.
When the two clubs collaborate together, a joint program is created.
To prepare for the FSAE event in the summer, the design and building process for the car typically spans from the months of July to August, which is when both teams lay out the blueprints for what the car will physically look like. In the fall and winter months the teams start to finalize all the designs and critical reviews to get the car ready for manufacturing. In the spring months, all of the car’s parts are made and the assembly process begins which is then followed by testing and tuning.
Considering all the limitations and restrictions Covid-19 has brought on to this year’s plan for the club, Lancer Motor Sports continues to have a positive outlook on the club’s ultimate turn out.
Tingey’s motivation for this year’s production of an electric car, despite the inconvenient adjustments due to Covid-19, is his simple passion for the Lancer Motor Sports Club.
The club’s board members have thought about different ways that they will approach this year’s production of an electric car, for next year’s FSAE competition.
“We may do group design sessions where we go into solid works in a virtual format, and talk through how to design different aspects of a project, it will be like a design class format,” said Holden.
When Covid-19 began earlier this year, FSAE immediately changed the competition from being an in person racing event, to a strictly virtual judging format. Paper work and design critiquing was submitted online.
As a result of the drastic changes to this year’s summer FSAE competition, the Lancer Motorsports team dropped out and preserved their car design frame from last semester for next year’s 2021 competition in the summer.
With the sudden transition to online, it has been harder than usual for the Lancer Motorsports club to recruit new members. The club currently holds 12 to 15 new members, when typically there are a solid 20 to 35 new faces that show up for the first club meeting.
Despite all these abnormal and undesirable changes, both Caltech Racing and Lancer Motorsport’s current and new club members are greatly prepared and determined to work through this time of uncertainty.
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