The first and only all-female team to enter the national Formula Hybrid competition is a group of students from Rochester Institute of Technology.
Hot Wheelz Formula SAE electric race team will open its season May 2-5 at a competition taking place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. They are among a field of 30 collegiate race teams in the 10th annual competition, hosted by Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College.
“With diligent planning, we are prepared to arrive at competition with a competitive vehicle and look forward to getting it on the track,” said Maura Chmielowiec, team chief engineer for HotWheelz. She and project manager Jennifer Smith led a 40-member team that has spent the majority of the 2014-16 academic years building their race car, using some of RIT’s onsite machine shop and laboratory facilities as well as working with local alumni.
Hot Wheelz has a long history of being the only all-female team in races. Hot Wheelz’ modified go-cart took the checkered flag in 2012 at the Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival’s E-Dragster event. Clocking the fastest time of the competition was exciting and inspiring, said Chmielowiec, who was the driver. Several festivals and a few souped-up go-carts later, she and Smith took an idea to Hot Wheelz adviser Jodi Carville, then director of WE@RIT, about Hot Wheelz building a Formula racecar and participating at one of the Society for Automotive Engineers’ national collegiate design competitions.
They have come a long way from driving a go-cart to building an 82 horse-power, 700-lb electric hybrid Formula-style race car. That work started in the classroom and hands-on in the shop, with team members taking an independent study class in chassis design, working with a local alumnus to learn how to weld, and using the engineering college’s senior design project format to develop several of the car’s systems. They’ve been supported by other collegiate teams, faculty and staff across RIT including Marty Schooping, senior program manager at the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute at RIT—part of the team since it began competing at the Imagine festival, and Sarah Burke, RIT Career Services employee specialist, as co-advisors.
In the hybrid competition, teams are required to participate in both static and dynamic events, specifically design and project management presentations, and acceleration, autocross and endurance field events. Teams from U.S. colleges such as the University of Michigan, Yale, Tufts and Boston University will compete, along with several international colleges from India, Canada and Turkey.
“The team has really come together over the past month to bring the car to life and with successful testing complete, we can’t wait to show what two years of dedication and hard work looks like,” said Smith.
Note: Hot Wheelz will return to campus in time for the Imagine festival and will show the car during the SAE Vehicle Unveiling event taking place at 11 a.m. in front of the Sentinel and the Student Alumni Union. Afterward, the car will be on display at the team’s exhibit in the Gordon Field House.
Driven: All-female racing team builds a community, curriculum and a car: https://www.rit.edu/showcase/index.php?id=323