Creativity and construction are revving up at Monash Motorsport, a student-run team who compete in the world’s largest engineering design competitions over several categories showcasing the team’s ingenuity in vehicle design.
And underlying its ground-breaking designs is a selection of composite products from ATL Composites that deliver strength, durability, lightweight structure and high performance.
Since 2000, Monash Motorsport has steadily improved in performance on and off the track. The team of close to 100 members is comprised of Monash University students from a range of faculties, including engineering, commerce, science, design and law; split into five separate departments working on different parts of the car: Autonomous Systems, Business, Dynamics, Electrical Systems and Structures.
The culmination of this is the team’s consistent success in FSAE Australasia and in European Formula Student competitions. Monash Motorsport has also developed Australia’s first competition-ready Formula Student Driverless car, with their sights set on the top of the Driverless class of the competition.
“Our next competition is FSAE-Australasia in December 2022 at Winton Raceway,” says Michaela Sykes-Turner, head of business for Monash Motorsports. “We are also working towards competing in Europe in 2023 at various Formula Student competitions there. In Europe there are a large number of different FSAE competitions in each different country, so it would be a great opportunity for the team to gain competition experience, see different design ideas, and showcase Australian Engineering on a world stage.”
Crucial to its vehicle’s lightweight yet sturdy construction is ATL Composites’ range of products including Twill weave carbon fibre, Kinetix R118 Infusion resin and H126 hardener, infusion tubing and Divinycell H60 foam in various thicknesses.
“They are using the carbon, resin and core materials for the manufacture of their aerodynamics package, which may include the aerofoils, aerofoil endplates and their undertray and various flow conditioning devices,” explains Justin McDermott, technical engineer at ATL. “Kinetix R118 infusion resin is ideal for their purpose due to the low viscosity allowing for easy infusion and great mechanical properties, with the hardener providing good mechanical properties with a short manufacturing time.
“This in combination with our carbon products and Divinycell PVC core allows for a strong, lightweight construction of aerodynamic components that suit the high aerodynamic loads these FSAE vehicles experience.”
The Monash Motorsports teams have competed each year in the Australian FSAE, and have competed overseas in Europe every two years.
“In Europe we often compete at FSUK (Formula Student UK), FSA (Formula Student Austria) and the largest and most prestigious competition, FSG (Formula Student Germany),” adds Sykes-Turner. “Over our 20-year history we have worked our way up the world ranking, with 2018 Europe and 2019 Australian competition results putting us at first in the world for combustion and third in the world for electric vehicle racing. Since then, we retired our combustion car to focus entirely on electric and autonomous vehicle racing.”
FSAE competitions distribute a new rule set each year, consisting of up to 200 pages of detailed design parameters.
“An example of some of our rules are rule boxes, where you can design anything you want within that box,” states Sykes-Turner. “For example, our aerodynamics package must fit into a set of rule boxes defined in the rule book, or the power rule that states we cannot draw more than 80kW of power from our accumulator – the main battery pack of the vehicle.”
Vehicles too are judged on their performance.
“This means designing for minimum mass, greatest downforce, maximum efficiency, and more,” she continues. “This is why we contacted ATL composites, because using lightweight carbon fibre composites means we can minimise the mass of our vehicle while still abiding by the strength requirements defined by rules.
“While we aren't allowed to increase power over 80kW, decreasing mass will help our car to drive and accelerate faster with more efficiency. We use carbon fibre for the entirety of our aerodynamics package, as well as the monocoque chassis of our car since it has such great material properties. With ATL products we can use high quality carbon fibre, infuse it with resin for strength, and use lightweight foam interior for minimal mass.”
Monash’s current vehicle is its most ambitious yet. Named M22, it will be its first all-wheel drive car with outboard motors and custom gearboxes in each wheel.
“It is designed to maximise downforce, with a more aggressive aerodynamics design than previous years,” states Sykes-Turner. “We are also working on custom motors to replace our off-the-shelf motors being used currently, which would go with a custom inverter design we are also working on. This is the vehicle we will compete with at the Australian competition at the end of the year, and hopefully in Europe in 2023.”
The M22 powertrain is in build at the moment and the First Drive milestone will occur within weeks.
“We are also working on getting the autonomous systems reliable on the car, so that we can compete in autonomous competition in Europe next year,” she concludes.