Formula SAE-A reflections

Formula SAE-A weekend always holds a special place in my heart, but this year’s event was by far my favourite to date. 

The 2019 Business Event judging team. Photo taken by optikal.com.au.

The competition between the teams was fierce and the EV teams are making leaps and bounds each year, developing more reliable and more competitive cars. Close to half of this year’s field was EVs, a marked increase from just a few years ago. And, who knows, maybe within the next five years, the committee is able to make the call to have two independent events each standing proud with what they have to offer. 

Each year, the students’ vision for the future of engineering and automotive capabilities continue to grow. Two teams displayed their autonomous, self-driving cars, with a view to maybe creating an autonomous Formula SAE-A class in the not too distant future.

Even though Monash took out both overall IC and EV class wins, there were some standout teams that gave Monash a real run for their money. Most notably for me, RMIT Electric Racing with an 0.04.88 Skidpad time, the fastest out of any EV or IC and the University of Auckland placing first in the Presentation Event, breaking a long-standing history of near misses for our Kiwi friends. Monash no doubt is a dedicated, hard-working team and deserve every accolade, but it’s nice to see other teams knocking on their door.

The Career Expo was another huge success, attracting local, regional and international firms to network and meet with our soon-to-be engineering and business graduates. Providing this link to industry is such an important part of Formula SAE-A and I hope that it continues to grow each year.

On a personal level, this year was one of many firsts for me.

It was my first time as part of the organising committee working alongside the other committee members to bring the event to life. It was my first time as an Event Captain, running the Business Presentation event from start to finish. I particularly enjoyed working with the other judges and the conversations that took place after each presentation. 

Last year, a number of improvements were made to the running of the Presentation Event and I’m looking forward to taking on board the feedback from this year to continue to elevate it. 

My absolute highlight was interviewing legendary F1 aerodynamicist, Willem Toet and his wife, Sue. The wind didn’t do us any favours, but for my first ever on-camera interview, I’m pretty chuffed with the result. 

I also loved speaking with the students and learning more about their roles within their teams and how they are planning to use this experience once they graduate.

The weekend culminated in an epic all-team photo and the awards presentation where we had the chance to recognise the hard work put in by all of the teams.

Taking the time to reflect on the last few months in the lead up to Formula SAE-A 2019, I remember being on my team while at uni thinking that one day I’d like to be more involved with the event. It was by happy chance two years ago that I was introduced to someone who could make that a reality. 

I love this event and everything it stands for. It’s an equal platform for men and women to showcase their talents and abilities. It’s a place where students from all disciplines can gain hands-on experience in project management, leadership, business and engineering skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.  

While I’m very much enjoying some downtime, I’m already looking forward to 2020.

Any opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Formula SAE-A. 

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