WHEN THE curtains come down on a play, one would expect the audience to disperse immediately. But that was not the case at PAF (Performing Arts Festival) of the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, at its open-air theatre on Friday night.
The students and professors alike were rooted to their place in anticipation. For they knew, the play was over but the climax was yet to happen. Amid the buzz, the lights were turned off and a piece of machinery was unveiled. When the lights came back, there was applause and noisy celebration. On stage, soaking in all the light and glory, was a prototype race car. It was designed and built by a group of 35 students of the college and will take part in the Formula SAE 2008, a car design competition, in Michigan, the US, later this year.
‘Vayu’ will be among the more than 100 entries for the competition organised by the Society of Automotive Engineers. “The last 10 days we have been sleeping and eating in the labs,” said Tarun Mathur, a member of the team, after the car was unveiled by Narain Karthikeyan. “It was not part of our course. We did it purely out of passion for motorsport.”
At the Formula SAE, the student teams are expected to design and develop a Formula race car. This is evaluated for its potential for production. The car will be rated for its design, cost and manufacturing analysis, engine performance and fuel economy, among other aspects.
“We will be doing the testing and tuning in the coming weeks. We also have to identify our drivers,” said team leader Rishab Bhandari.
The car is powered by a Honda CBR-F4i engine of 600cc capacity and has an output of 65bhp. The students have identified a racetrack in Ahmednagar for testing. They hope to do it before their examination, commencing from April 15.
"We learnt a lot more out of doing this project than what we would have by sticking to books and lectures," said Shrikant Meshram, a second year metallurgical student.