During my second year on Olin Electric Motorsports, a Formula SAE Electric team, I served as the Mechanical Design Lead of the team. This means I was responsible for the organization of the design, fabrication, analysis, assembly, and testing of the vehicle. In past years, the team had never completed a vehicle well before competition, thus we were unable to do proper testing and close the design loop. My goal as Mech Lead was to build this needed time into our schedule from the start and look to find more time by increasing efficiency in our fabrication process.
This was accomplished by a strong focus on transparency with our timeline within the mechanical leadership team and the mechanical team. Weekly fabrication progress tracking and the implementation of physical part trackers enabled the entire team to understand the current status of fabrication. This shift from this information to living in folks' heads to being a public source of information aided in the overall success of the fabrication period. In the end, we were able to shave an entire month's worth of time off our previous years' timelines.
The team set a top-level goal of producing a winning vehicle at the competition, and identified from previous competition data that this meant strong performance in autocross and completing endurance. The foundation of the team’s strategy was to design a powertrain architecture that was finalized for last year’s vehicle, Mk.4. Since Mk.4 did not complete the electrical inspection and based on the team’s financial goals, this year’s team planned an iteration of this architecture with a goal to accelerate the design and fabrication by two months to introduce substantial testing time. While this plan was halted due to the pandemic, we were still able to compete virtually albeit without a finished vehicle. Nonetheless, the team's efforts were rewarded by being one of four winning EV teams in the Design Event for the 2020 Formula SAE Virtual Competition.