Team Interviews: Sam De Wel
Sam De Wel is in his final of Electromechanical Engineering Sciences at the University of Leuven at Campus Group T. He is responsible for the Structural Design of the Punch One.
What was your motivation to take part in the Punch Powertrain Solar Team?
“In the beginning I was not planning to do Engineering Technology. After my studies of Latin-Maths in high school I started to study Civil Engineering, but after the first months I realized this was too theoretical for me. I value practical experience as well in my studies. This is why I switched to Engineering Technology. I specifically chose Campus Group T since they are known for the large amount of practical exercises during their courses. I wanted to be part of the Solar Team since the start of my time at Campus Group T, since I saw it as the ultimate practical experience. I applied for different technical functions and was very happy to be offered Structural Design.”
What does your function entail?
“The Structural department is mainly occupied with the body of the car. This starts with drawing the interior of the car in a computer program. With a different program we then simulate the different forces that are being exercised on the car. After an analysis of these forces we keep drawing and simulating the car until we achieve an optimal structure. To do this I work together with the people of the Mechanical department, e.g. to see how strong the body has to be for the suspension. The goal is to make the car as strong as possible, but at the same time as light as possible. To do this, I did a lot of research in the beginning of the project for different materials that are being used and new developments. Next to that, I have to do a cost analysis for the different materials, as we don’t have an infinite budget…”
And after the construction?
“As the car is as good as ready right now, it is placed in a wind tunnel to check the rigidity of the car so its aerodynamic shape is retained. Sometimes we can discover some imperfections that were made during the construction process, which make the aerodynamics less optimal. These are perhaps little things, but they can have large consequences on the outcome of the race. All imperfections are registered and improved after the wind tunnel test.”
What is the most important thing that you have learned from this experience?
“The most important thing I have learned here is the practical experience. Apart from that, the working in a team is something you learn a lot from. You work together with a group of people that are all equally motivated to reach a common goal. I think working together with the different partners is important to get to know how it will go when I’m working in a company, as the Solar Team is a small company on itself.”