Scuderia Mensa – the competition begins!

11. Apr 2017 | Technology + Products

Formula Student is an annual and international constructors’ contest. The Contest calls dedicated students from all over the world to compete in all technical disciplines. It requires entrants to have a strong competitive streak, comprehensive knowledge and motivation in categories such as economy also design and efficiency. Since 2006, the “Scuderia Mensa” racing team has consistently entered to represent the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences in this trial of strength. Over the years, the team has continued to develop and improve in order to implement cutting-edge standards and technologies. They continue to improve the performance of the racing car. They also give students participating in the team their first taste of project management and vehicle construction.

Every new beginning brings excitement

In 2006, a handful of Engineering students at the Wiesbaden Technical College decided to join the global constructors’ competition. The competition is run by the Association of German Engineers and to try their hand at developing a racing car with precious little experience. In 2008, the team got its first taste of racing technology with its powerhouse. It had a total weight of 310 kg, a power rating of 67 kW, a water-cooled, in-line, four-cylinder engine from a Suzuki GSX 600 R K3 and a displacement of 599 cm³. It also laid the foundation for many subsequent teams at Wiesbaden Technical College The College. The College was later renamed the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences.

Cooperation with the Engineering and Electrical Engineering Departments allowed the team to pick the brains of professors who had a wealth of experience in vehicle construction. It also made its first contacts in industry. The proximity to the Rhein-Main industrial region also provided a great opportunity. First of all to get sponsors and additional mentors on board for the Scuderia Mensa’s future projects. Even today, our team is still building on the contacts made back then in industry and in the university’s specialist departments. It is able to fall back on these for development, production and in the event of any problems.

The team’s vehicle for the following year’s competition in 2009 was 100 kg lighter. It had its power increased by 68 kW. This model helped the team achieve some noteworthy successes. The philosophy of lightweight construction and sophisticated design scored well with the competition’s jury. It was crowned Germany’s most beautiful car for 2009. With an angular new design, profiled, lightweight construction and the successes of the previous two years under its belt, the team set its sights on new performance records and podium positions in 2010.

New decade, new technology

A new decade had dawned and all signs pointed to the future. The world was investing more and more money in renewable energy sources. Various companies’ first electric vehicles had gone into series production. In keeping with this new age – and at the forefront of these technological developments – the Scuderia Mensa team started to focus on electrical engineering. It planned to develop its first racing car powered by an electric motor.

In the 2011 season, the time had come. The first Scuderia Mensa car with an electrical drive train left the workshop and aggressively pursued new record times. The weight increase due to the Li(NiCoMn)O2 battery and the two direct-current electric motors was able to be easily balanced out by a 6-fold increase in torque with the same output. In 2012, it was a case of strong, stronger and strongest. The weight was able to be reduced again by a further 80 kg.

Two 100 kW motors were also incorporated, each with a torque of 750 Nm. The newly introduced driver adjustment systems for the steering wheel, pedals and seat allowed for a much wider driver pool without having to compromise on comfort in the process. In the following years leading up to 2016, there were constant advances in terms of the car’s drag coefficient and transmission systems. At this point, a planetary-gear transmission developed in-house was incorporated for the first time. Despite a total of five years of electric drive systems, the team nonetheless suffered from a lack of expertise in this area.


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Tried-and-tested technology brings great success for Scuderia Mensa

There was a reorganisation of the Wiesbaden Technical College into the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences over the past few years. That brought with it a shortage of Electrical Engineering students in the Scuderia Mensa team. That had to do with the low level of awareness within the relevant specialist departments. In 2016, this ultimately led the team to revert to using a combustion engine in its next vehicle. Based on the technology of the combustion-engine model from 2010, “Melody” was able to achieve some good results. Despite the technical changes that had been introduced in the Formula Student combustion competitions since then. She also gave the team’s confidence a shot in the arm.

What is yet to come

In order to establish itself at the forefront of the combustion competitions in the longer term once again, the team will have to develop new methods and technologies for combustion engines, too. The team succeeded in adding more than 50 new members at the end of 2016. This was largely thanks to Scuderia Mensa’s higher-profile social media presence and strategy of direct marketing at trade fairs. Also in the form of print media, such as flyers handed out at schools and colleges. The associated accumulation of expertise will bring about a number of reorganisations in the course of 2017 and the years that follow. In addition, it is hoped that it will yield a faster, more efficient racing car.

Innovations include the monocoque construction used from 2017 onwards with the aim of saving yet more weight. Also to the use of sensors for fine-tuning mechanical and electronic systems. It is anticipated that the “smart” vehicle that emerges over the next few years will allow the team to react quickly and easily to the prevailing conditions and achieve even higher finishing positions in the process. It will also give participating students even more experience in terms of prototyping. Not to mention reinforcing the team’s problem-solving capability. Depending on the strength of the team, other innovations over the coming years may include in-house transmission development and a permanent return to an electrical drive train. We want this new conversion to electrical drive technology to take place after careful preparation and planning. In doing so, we want to continue to bring the drive train of the future to colleges.

In the 2017 season, we will once again be in attendance at the Formula Student Germany in Hockenheim. Not to mention the Formula Student Spain and Formula Student Netherlands events. There will be two follow-up blog posts to accompany these highlights. One about covering our roll-out in June and another on our racing results towards the end of the season. We would like to extend our thanks to Herth+Buss for giving us the opportunity to present our team to an interested audience. We would also like to thank Herth+Buss for providing the Scuderia Mensa team with its support and guidance.

You can find further information about us on our website or our Facebook page.

Gastautor Andre Martin für Drive! byHerth+Buss