Zurich UAS Racing team: race fever at the university
A team of students at the ZHAW is developing e-racing cars. Testing these cars on real Formula 1 tracks against universities from all over the world is just part of the buzz and provides a good training ground for embarking on their professional careers later.
Tinkering with an e-racing car while also taking care of your study commitments – this is no easy task, and not just from a cognitive perspective. To be part of the Formula Student association, you need a multidisciplinary team, numerous sponsors and a good network. “It is of course a time-consuming and challenging undertaking,” says Kim Hürlimann, President of the Zurich UAS Racing team, as the team from Winterthur calls itself: “However, it is also an incredibly varied and enriching experience.” The Zurich UAS Racing team now comprises more than 70 motivated students from various degree programmes – all with the same goal: optimising the racing car and continually advancing the student association.
Kim Hürlimann, a budding business lawyer, sees the racing team as a kind of playground where students can let off steam and gain experience. “We adopt a very practical approach to our work, take on responsibility and come into contact with specialist areas that we are not familiar with. These experiences will be of benefit to us when we embark on our professional careers later on.”
The Zurich UAS Racing team was founded by students at the ZHAW four years ago. The aim was to participate in Formula Student, the world’s biggest student motorsport competition with 600 universities represented. The first attempt did not go exactly as planned. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and a technical defect, the racing car was never used. As many other factors, including a solid design and careful financial planning, form part of the assessment, however, the racing team from Winterthur was nevertheless able to take part.
The team completed a second e-car last year and took its place on the starting grid with the new vehicle in three races. “We found ourselves in the middle of the pack in each race. As we are a very young team and have only built two cars, this represented a real success for us,” says Kim Hürlimann in summing up their progress. In 2023, the race programme will once again include one race each in Switzerland, Spain and Croatia (see box). The ZHAW is lending its support to the team as the main sponsor and mediation platform.
Project assignments and Bachelor's theses mean that new people are continually joining the team, while other graduates finish their programme and leave. Kim Hürlimann: “We make a point of recruiting interested students at the beginning of their programme and easing them in with simpler tasks to allow them to familiarise themselves with the subject matter.” A core group of team members provides the necessary consistency. The Zurich UAS Racing team thus offers an interdisciplinary and practice-oriented learning arena that no textbook can live up to. The result at the races is only of secondary importance.
In order to optimise e-racing cars accordingly and be successful in future competitions, the Zurich UAS Racing team is always in need of new talented individuals with the requisite motivation levels. The team will take part in the following races: Formula Student Switzerland from 1 to 5 July in Valais, Formula Student Spain from 6 to 12 August in Barcelona and Formula Student Alpe Adria from 21 to 26 August in the Croatian town of Novi Marof.