Monday, 08 June 2020
In late March, Professor Daryoush Habibi, Executive Dean of the ECU Engineering School and long-time supporter of ECU’s motorsports program, announced that ECU’s motorsports team would no longer be able to enter the motorsports workshop due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing requirements.
It was at that moment that Adam Honeycombe, Technical Director, suggested this was a good time to build an electric car, a project that had never been attempted by the ECU Student Motorsports team.
“We had to assume we would lose access to the workshop for the whole year, we know our future involves electric power and with the rapid development in battery technology, this was an opportune time to make the switch and take advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown,” Adam explained.
Tom Mayes, Performance Technical Director, was a driving force behind the move and embraced the challenge to learn a completely different set of engineering skills.
“For the vast majority of the team, our background is in mechanical engineering, so we have had to go back to basics, researching electrical engineering and the intricacies of what is required to design and build an electric race car,” Tom said.
ECU Motorsport: A history of innovation
The latest development highlights the reason ECU’s motorsports program is regarded as one of the most innovative university courses in Australia.
“What makes ECU stand-out compared to other teams is that each of our designs are innovative and completely different,” explained 2020 Team Manager and Bachelor of Technology (Motorsports) student, Jacob Ritchie.
“Whereas most teams make minor alterations for the next year’s competition, our design is entirely different for each competition.” Jacob said.
ECU punches above its weight
Despite being much smaller than many of the teams, ECU has always punched well above its weight.
One of the key reasons for this is the support and stewardship of individuals such as Dr John Hurney OAM, who earlier this year received an honorary Doctorate of Engineering from ECU for his service to the motorsport industry and inspiring young people within the industry.
“John (Hurney) is like the father of ECU motorsports,” Adam joked. “In all seriousness, he has so many contacts in industry and is always very generous in introducing us to them. There is nothing John won’t do for the team, and we cannot thank him enough,” Adam reflected.
The electric vehicle is under construction, and the team hope to have it ready for the next competition in 2021 in Victoria (if COVID-19 doesn’t intervene) before later heading to the UK with both the electric and the internal combustion race cars.
While their goals are ambitious, innovation and adaptability are nothing new for the Motorsport team at ECU, and you get the feeling that nothing will get in their way, not even a pandemic.
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