Singapore might not have an automotive industry but thanks to some NUS students, it does not lack the talent to build outstanding cars. Students from the NUS Faculty of Engineering made waves in two international automotive competitions recently: the Shell Eco-marathon to design the most fuel-efficient car and the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) competition where undergraduates design, build and race their own formula racing car.
A 21-student team, comprising students from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering, designed and built the “Kent Ridge Urban Concept Eco-car” or KRUCE which garnered 5th place at the Shell Eco-marathon. The first such Singapore-made car, it produces zero carbon emissions thanks to its use of hydrogen fuel cells.
During the official run at the competition, the KRUCE ran 484 kilometres on just one litre of fuel, surpassing expectations set during test runs of 400 kilometres to a litre.
The KRUCE was entered under the Urban Concept category of the Shell Eco-marathon which took place in Germany on 7-9 May 2009. The Urban Concept car is a four-wheel roadworthy vehicle which seeks to address demands for an environmentally-friendly, economical car in modern transportation. Watch a short video of the team’s journey.
Competing against 119 registered teams from universities worldwide, the NUS FSAE team worked against a late arrival to the competition (due to the swine flu travel restrictions) to take 6th place at the presentation segment and 16th for the 22-km endurance race. They bested teams from Japan and Korea, which have long-established automotive industries, to win the top spot for Asia.
The team, led by Tan Weiliang, Mechanical Engineering Class of 2009, travelled to Brooklyn, Michigan, USA, in May 2009 to take part. Assoc Prof Seah Kar Heng, the faculty advisor for the project who travelled with them, said: “The 2009 NUS Formula FSAE team has built a fantastic car, as proven by the competition results. If we had not come, we would never know how good the car is and its educational value would have been lost.”
He said that through working on such real-life projects students get to apply what they learnt in the classroom and added that their top ranking shows that they are able to achieve a world-class standard.
In the next academic year, such projects will form the model for design-based projects for engineering students when the Faculty rolls out its new Design-Centric Curriculum (DCC). Students will get to embark on projects from their very first year and through such experiences, learn to come up with creative solutions to real world problems.
Weiliang said that the most enriching experience from working on the project was being given the opportunity to lead a team of talented and passionate team mates with a common vision. He said: “With individuals who are very competent in their own departments, I learned much more than I could ever ask for while working together with them.”
Fuel the achievements of the Engineering students! Make a gift to the Mechanical Engineering Fund to help students cover the expenses of projects such as the NUS Formula Race Car and KRUCE.