The School of Engineering of the University of Minho, in Guimarães, received last May 24th, the “Race Party“, considered the biggest European academic festival of custom minicar competitions. The initiative counted with about 300 students from the universities of Aveiro, Coimbra, Minho, Porto and Lisbon in tests of design, speed and distance, besides surprise challenges to the champions and several prizes.
The event took place from 12 noon to 4:30 pm, in the main nave of the Azurém campus, with free admission. The organization was the responsibility of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Center for Research in Electromechanical Microsystems (CMEMS) of the School of Engineering of UMinho.
The minicars were built this semester and follow the principles of engineering, seeking optimal performance (no fuel or batteries), creative solutions, innovative design, and environmental concern, as well as fostering team spirit. Some are faster dragster style and others are pinewood derby type, using a block of pine wood and with four plastic wheels.
“There are similar events in the UK, Germany or France, but more localized and without our dimension, organization and experience, this is already the 9th edition”, explains coordinator Paulo Flores. This professor invited Mechanical Engineering professors from other national academies where internal exhibition events are also held and their students “were very happy and motivated” to come to Guimarães.
The highlight of the program was the speed race, in which each dragster minicar, driven by a spring, travels five meters as fast as possible. The distance race took place at 3pm, and the winner was the vehicle that went the farthest in a single throw. The surprise race followed, with only 15 minutes for each group to adjust the efficiency and performance of their car to a certain goal. The challenge of champions, on the other hand, allowed a last attempt for the competitors who wanted to surpass the performance of the winning minicarts.
“This initiative created in 2015 is already comparable to similar events in the USA and allows Portuguese students of Mechanical Engineering and Product Engineering to develop physical and virtual prototypes with various solutions, adapting the complexity to their degree of scientific-technological knowledge and their connection to a future profession,” highlights Paulo Flores.
The event is part of the teaching activities of the Mechanical Engineering II Integrative Project and has captured the market’s interest, with the support of entities such as Continental, ValorPneu and Porsche.