Every year The University of Auckland Power Electronics department holds an IPT car race which is a part of their final year design project. In 2014 PowerbyProxi had the privilege of sponsoring the event (called the PowerbyProxi challenge), which involves students designing an inductive power system to deliver power to a radio controlled car that is raced on a circular track.
The event which was held on June 6th, required students to design a pick-up coil, pick-up controller, and an output power regulator which will efficiently deliver power from a transmitting racetrack to an RC car. The challenge of the course is to pick-up maximum power from the track and also convert it in such a way as to provide optimum acceleration to the DC motor which drives the car.
After a semester of learning and many hours spent in the labs, the students were finally given the chance to test their designs in the first round of qualifying: a drag race. Every pair of students was allowed to place their circuit into an RC car, and compete for time along a single track of approximately 10 meters. The drag race is a pure test of speed, and measures the performance of the design. The 8 teams with the fastest qualifying times are invited to compete in the finals, with a $300 prize at stake.
In contrast to the drag race, the finals are set on an ovular track which tests not only circuit performance but also driver handling. The track was set up in the foyer of the ECE department and many students and faculty gathered to watch the annual competition. The sponsor PowerbyProxi had a healthy representation at the event, as 12 engineers (mostly UoA alumni) from the company travelled to the university to support the students.
Students competed 1v1 in the best of 3 races. Round after round, students were eliminated as those with superior driving and circuit performance made their way to the later round. A dramatic final eventually provided a winner, who was congratulated with rapturous applause from the more the 50 strong crowd. PowerbyProxi engineering manager, Kunal Bhargava, presented a trophy and the prize money to the deserving students.
But the drama wasn’t over! As a final test of their design, the students were given the opportunity to race against the faculty designed vehicle. The staff car was driven by Arunim Kumar from PowerbyProxi. The University of Auckland alumni gave the rookie engineers a clinic as he won 3 straight races against the newly crowned champions.
At the end of the day, the PowerbyProxi challenge provided the Power Electronics students with a fun way to test the designs and round out the semester. PowerbyProxi is grateful for the opportunity to support the up and coming IPT engineers in this challenging and exciting course, and the company looks forward to its continued involvement in future years.