Pow­er­ing a win­ning tra­di­tion

New Straits Times - - Higher Ed -

ROZANA SANI

rsani@nst.com.my

IN a fourth con­sec­u­tive win at the an­nual Shell Eco-marathon Asia com­pe­ti­tion, Univer­siti Te­knologi MARA (UiTM) Eco Sprint Team clinched the cham­pion ti­tle in the elec­tric mo­bil­ity cat­e­gory in Sin­ga­pore this year. The team — com­pet­ing in the pro­to­type ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory us­ing hy­dro­gen fuel cells — went straight to work af­ter its win at the 2016 edi­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion in Manila in the Philip­pines that saw its ve­hi­cle clocked a record mileage of 476km/m3.

Team leader Ami­rah Athi­rah Ro­hazam, 25, said: “There was no time to waste as the con­test chal­lenges stu­dents to de­sign, build and drive the most en­ergy-ef­fi­cient car.”

The third-year Bach­e­lor of En­gi­neer­ing (Hon­ours) Elec­tri­cal En­gi­neer­ing stu­dent knew the mam­moth task that laid ahead af­ter the 2016 team com­pleted its task and handed the man­tle over to the 2017 team last Au­gust. The chal­lenge in­volves not only build­ing the car from scratch, but also com­ing up with the most prac­ti­cal as well as at­trac­tive de­sign and find­ing the spon­sors to fund the project.

Last year, Ami­rah Athi­rah played a sup­port­ing role in writ­ing the pro­posal for the project and seek­ing spon­sor­ship. For 2017, she was se­lected as leader by pre­vi­ous heads to helm the UiTM Eco Sprint Team.

“The project com­prised two com­po­nents — the tech­ni­cal and non-tech­ni­cal. As the head, I acted as the li­ai­son be­tween the team, UiTM man­age­ment and spon­sors, and made sure we met deadlines for both the tech­ni­cal and non­tech­ni­cal com­po­nents,” said Ami­rah Athi­rah.

In terms of the tech­ni­cal as­pects, the team was lucky to have former Eco Sprint Team mem­bers as coaches and men­tors. The cur­rent team — as in pre­vi­ous — con­sisted of elec­tri­cal and me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing, and art and de­sign un­der­grad­u­ates.

Ami­rah Athi­rah added that she is for­tu­nate to have the sup­port and en­cour­age­ment of her par­ents who are en­gi­neers.

For Shell Eco-Marathon Asia 2017, the team looked at push­ing the dis­tance bar­rier fur­ther.

“We man­aged to re­duce some 6kg of the weight of the car by us­ing com­pos­ite ma­te­rial. We cre­ated more space for the driver by chang­ing the steer­ing mech­a­nism.”

Mod­i­fi­ca­tions were made in the use of mono­coque in­stead of alu­minium chas­sis, and the use X-axis ro­ta­tion hexagon push rod in­stead of Y-axis ro­ta­tion cylin­der push rod for steer­ing, among oth­ers.

On the elec­tri­cal as­pect, the Ar­duino-based data log­ger re­placed the pre­vi­ous year’s Ea­gle Tree v4 in cir­cuit, en­abling a bet­ter sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis of the ve­hi­cle sys­tem.

“This time, we com­pleted our car on time and did test runs a week be­fore we went to Sin­ga­pore. This al­lowed us to im­prove the re­sults.”

On what the team learnt through its par­tic­i­pa­tion in Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2017, Ami­rah Athi­rah said: “We need to im­prove the mechani- cal in­fu­sion sys­tem by min­imis­ing the use of resin. For the next project, we want to re­duce the size of the car to make the body fully cov­ered.

“We will sug­gest to the En­gi­neer­ing Fac­ulty and UiTM Shah Alam stu­dent af­fairs depart­ment to find a work­place for UiTM Eco-Sprint Team be­cause it now shares a space with other clubs.”

But the re­spon­si­bil­ity for man­ag­ing the 2018 team will be on the shoul­ders of third-year elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent and cur­rent team mem­ber Afif Nor No­raz­man, 23.

As for Ami­rah Athi­rah, she is glad that she had been a part of the project for two ses­sions run­ning.

“Win­ning the Shell Eco-marathon Asia com­pe­ti­tion for the fourth con­sec­u­tive time is amaz­ing and we thank the peo­ple who have been sup­port­ing our team since the be­gin­ning of our jour­ney.”

Join­ing Shell Eco-marathon Asia was an en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence as it gave her hands-on en­gi­neer­ing ex­pe­ri­ence as well as man­age­ment skills.

“There is a con­cur­rent need to pro­duce more en­ergy and cut car­bon diox­ide emis­sions. Not only will we re­quire more en­ergy but also cleaner and low-car­bon en­ergy. We, the youths — through com­pe­ti­tions such as the Shell Eco­marathon — have the chance to drive the change to meet ris­ing en­ergy de­mand by tap­ping into the power of in­no­va­tion in the most so­cially, en­vi­ron­men­tally and eco­nom­i­cally re­spon­si­ble way.”

The Shell Eco-marathon Asia com­pe­ti­tion is held an­nu­ally by Shell Cor­po­ra­tion Ltd. The aim is to achieve the most mileage with the least amount of fuel con­sump­tion. Over sev­eral days, teams make as many at­tempts as pos­si­ble to travel the fur­thest on the equiv­a­lent of one litre of fuel. Cars drive a fixed num­ber of laps around a cir­cuit at a set speed. Or­gan­is­ers cal­cu­late their en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and name a win­ner in each class and for each en­ergy source.

This year was the eighth year the con­test has been run­ning in Asia, and this time it was held at Changi Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, Sin­ga­pore. The com­pe­ti­tion is split into two cat­e­gories. The Pro­to­type cat­e­gory fo­cuses on max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency while the Ur­ban Con­cept cat­e­gory em­pha­sises prac­ti­cal de­signs.

(From left) Car driver Mohammad Shamir Jamil, Ami­rah Athi­rah Ro­hazam and Afif Nor No­raz­man dis­cussing about the in­ter­nal com­po­nents of the pro­to­type car.

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