Maruti Suzuki along with the members of SAE India has kicked off the final leg of the competition - SUPRA SAEINDIA 2015. We were at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi to cover the event. The student formula competition - SUPRA SAEINDIA has turned five this year. The competition series that takes place every year began in the year 2011 and was first brought to India by Maruti Suzuki and SAE India, with a view to achieve Automotive Mission Plan 2016 – which is to make India an International Automotive Hub.
About the Sport
The SUPRA SAEINDIA as an engineering competition that sees participation of the young engineering minds of the country wherein they try to meet the challenges that come across as they compete in designing a Formula category car. The competition receives participation from undergraduate as well as post graduate students pan India. The competition requires the students to develop the various subsystems, chassis etc. that come together, along with a sourced engine to form a Formula-category car of prescribed specifications.
The Formula-category car that the students design competes to ply on racetrack. Therefore, the event is one of its type since the speed limits that the car is expected to touch is much higher as compared to some of the other events like SAE Baja etc. The competition also provides all-encompassing growth to the students and equips them with much coveted exposure that helps them make industry-ready. The fact that the event combines various stages of learning with sheer thrill and enthusiasm, make it even more desirable.
The competition saw participation from about 2200 students representing 167 colleges this year. The event is now at the ultimate stage and the 110 enthusiastic teams that have been shortlisted are set to meet for the final round of competition, which will be held between 15 -19 July, 2015 at the MMRT, Chennai.
During the final round, the cars would undergo technical inspection and various tests - egress, noise, tilt, brake, skid pad etc. Teams that successfully pass these tests would eventually compete in the endurance race and take home the trophy.
The SUPRA SAE engineering competition is based on the Formula SAE International. Since the competition does not follow the exactly same regulations, it is known as the SUPRA SAE. The series has now matured relatively and all the participating teams compete in the event by building their cars from scratch for the competition. However, when the competition series began in the year 2011, to encourage participation from more aspiring students and teams, they were encouraged wherein they received standard Maruti Suzuki engines and transmission as part of the encouragement. The students then had to design and fabricate the Formula-type racing car for the competition.
The engineering competition is open to all under graduate and post graduate students from India. The teams are judged on various parameters and skills like – engineering specifications, safety standards, cost, teamwork capability, leadership and management etc. The teams are shortlisted based on how they perform in the three stages of the competition that take place over a period of one year.
Stage 1: This stage is a virtual design round where the teams are judged based on their technical prowess. The virtual designs made by teams on software and the detailed manufacturing techniques that they intend to employ are judged.
Stage 2: In this stage of the competition, the teams are judged based on the detail of their plan. The teams start to detail their sourcing partners, costing and details etc. The teams that get selected during this stage go the final round and manufacture the car for further evaluation.
Stage 3: The teams that successfully manufacture their cars get to compete in the different events in which judges evaluate the cars based on parameters like fuel economy, stability, endurance through different static and dynamic rounds of the tests.
The teams also use educational packages of several CAD / CAE (ANSYS, CATIA, SolidWorks etc.) during the preliminary development phases of the design process. This is done before the first stage of competition (where the students defend their virtual design).
The sport has come a long way and the rules and regulations for the competition have changed drastically since its inception. The competing teams now have to procure the engine, fabricate the subsystems and come together with a race-worthy car. Unlike the previous seasons of race, the teams no longer receive the 800cc engine and transmission from Maruti. This is done to ensure that an all around development of the team takes place. Since procuring the engine involves significant spending, it helps add another area where the judges can evaluate the competitiveness of the team and find out if they are as cost efficient as the others. The teams are then judged based on various parameters like lateral grip, endurance test, noise test etc. The capacity of the engine that the teams can use has also been limited to maximum of 610cc, this helps to make the cars safer. The chassis of the cars are generally made out of seamless pipes and standard section steel tubes available in the market, this helps to keep the cost to the minimum.
The competition is important from the stand point that it exposes the students to various engineering areas that contribute to the new product development – manufacturing processes / research / procurement / design / analysis / prototyping etc. very early on. The first-hand experience that the students go through reinforces the theoretical knowledge.
Apart from the conventional jobs that the engineering students generally vie for, other prospects for the students open-up too, as they become competent enough to step on the first rung of the motorsport events like – A1 GP, NASACAR, F3, Formula E etc.
The knowledge about various areas that students get by participating provides them the needed foresight into the future and helps decide their career path more precisely. From the industry stand point too, the time required to train fresh engineers reduces since participating in events like these makes them aware of the general processes and systems required for manufacturing products.