A new season, and a new website!

I’ve been spending this week migrating BCIT Racing’s homepage over to this self-hosted WordPress site.  It’ll be cheaper, as well as more modern. Best of all, WordPress has excellent blog integration, so we will be able to post updates with ease.

I have also added a private forum for team members to chat. This will act as a semi-permanent library of information and discussion. We have felt that we’ve needed to bridge the gap between casual WhatsApp chat, and Google Drive information storage, so hopefully the forum will be a useful solution.

So long Wix…you served us well for a few years.


New Seat Design

This year, BCIT Racing’s Seat Team had the opportunity to design a brand new seat. In the previous year, the seat that was used proved to have some limiting factors, such as weight and size, that were not allowing the car to race at its full potential.

Come November 13, the team came to a conclusion on the type of seat to design, as seen in Figure 1. This design has the potential to improve all the limiting factors and provide a much more efficient ride for next year’s competition. Currently, it is still undergoing some revisions as the team makes small adjustments to the design to verify that it meets all of Baja SAE’s requirements as there were new requirements and revisions to the rulebook this year.


We are planning to make the structural seat components out from carbon fibre or fiberglass in order to reduce the weight that was a major issue in the previous seat.. The red padding as seen in Figure 1, is used to improve the comfort of the driver and will be made out of some sort of closed cell foam that will have properties that remain constant, no matter the conditions and will be relatively wear resistant. The foam padding used in the previous seat was designed for the Temperature controlled interior of a car, after the race it was evident that this could greatly be improved upon.
After the manufacturing process is finished, we will have a lighter, smaller and more functional seat than the car seat used in last year’s race.


Bleeding the Brakes

On November 12th, the Brakes Team collaborated with the Pedal Box Team to bleed BCIT Racing’s Baja SAE car’s brakes. The purpose was to check on the condition of the brake fluid inside as requested by the Team Captain, Jeff Meiklejohn.
The automotive technician experience that Alex, from the Pedal Box team, proved invaluable as he led the group in the procedure of bleeding the brakes.
However, midway through the procedure disaster ensued. While pumping the brake pedal the pressure switches exploded! Thankfully, we all were wearing personal protective equipment so no one was injured.
In the picture below, you can see the result of the broken pressure switch. Pressure switches are required to activate the car’s brake light as per SAE rules. In the meantime however, we simply plugged the T-ports with NPT plug fittings to prevent the system being exposed to air and to stop any leaks.

Moving forward, the brakes team will select pressure switches that are capable of handling the pressure generated by the master cylinder.



Designing a new CVT Cover

Part of the CVT Cover overhaul is a clearance issue with the frame. With only about an inch between the end of the cover and a frame member, removal of the cover currently requires some finesse as the removal process is in the direction of the member.

Figure 1: Old design’s proximity to frame member issue.

The CVT cover team has come up with the idea of splitting the cover horizontally instead of vertically. This makes the direction of removal unobstructed by frame members and hopefully a happy repair team!

The team is currently verifying that the design will adhere to Baja SAE’s requirements. No point building something that won’t get you through tech!

Figure 2: Sketch of new separation method



SAE Award!

SAE BC held a seminar titled “Defects in Aircraft Design and Materials,” presented by engineer and historian Larry Rinek. BCIT Racing’s Engineering Manager, Sanesh Iyer, attended this event. It was a great presentation, with many case-studies exemplifying the importance of sound engineering decisions. One big lesson that was learned, is that engineers should always design with the end user in mind. Many of the case studies presented had their failures rooted in poor maintenance practices rather than functional-design failures. A root cause of these maintenance practices is poor design for manufacture and assembly techniques, leading to mechanics taking short-cuts when working on airframes.

SAE BC Chairperson Elise Woolliams and Speaker Larry Rinek with Larry’s model. Source: SAE BC [1]


BCIT Racing has had issues with DFM/A in the past, due to component complexity and level of integration required in a successful Baja SAE vehicle. However, since we have a chassis to work with for the 2016 season, team members are enabled to work on the current chassis. Being able to physically interact with our chassis has helped teach us DFM/A practices. This learning tool has enabled us to design new components with service in mind, enabling faster, more efficient, pit-stops during competition.

One example of this improvement is the CVT cover. Currently, it takes about 10 minutes to remove the CVT cover, which we are aiming to bring down to one minute or less. Enabling quicker CVT cover and CVT removal allows for quicker gearbox maintenance and repairs, critical if it fails during competition. The CVT team has had this goal in mind, and has come up with some very innovative solutions to this problem.
SAE BC and Larry Rinek’s seminar “Defects in Aircraft Design and Materials” was a great learning opportunity, as it reinforced some key DFM/A lessons we learned last season.
Now for the big news, we won an award from SAE BC at this seminar! SAE BC annually awards student teams participating in an SAE CDS event cash prizes based on a written submission. BCIT Racing is very proud of our submission, and we know where we can improve it for next year. We won the 2nd place award, valued at $600, which is a significant contribution to our budget goals this year.


SAE BC Student Team Award Winners. Source: SAE BC [1]

BCIT Racing’s Engineering Manager, Sanesh Iyer, receiving our SAE BC Award. Source: SAE BC [1]

BCIT Racing would like to thank SAE BC for hosting this seminar, “Defects in Aircraft Design and Materials,” and presenting BCIT Racing with this award! SAE BC, in one night, reinforced valuable lessons, and provided cash support, both of which will help us achieve our goals this year. BCIT Racing would also like to congratulate UBC Supermileage and UBC AeroDesign on their 1st and 3rd place awards. We look forward to attending more SAE BC events in the future!


[1] SAE BC, “Defects in Aircraft Design and Materials,” in Vancouver, BC, 2015
[2] BCIT Racing, Portland, OR, 2015