Race Party animates Azurém campus once again

UMinho’s School of Engineering holds Europe’s largest university festival of personalised minicars

Around 300 students from six universities gathered in Guimarães on 22 May.

On 22 May, the University of Minho in Guimarães hosted the “Race Party”, considered to be the largest academic festival of customised minicar racing in Europe.

The 10th edition of the initiative featured around 300 students from the universities of Aveiro, Coimbra, Lisbon, Minho, Porto and Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro in tests of design, speed and distance, as well as surprise and champion challenges and various prizes. The event took place from 12 noon to 4.30pm in the main nave of the Azurém campus and was free to enter. The Mechanical Engineering Department and the Electromechanical Microsystems Research Centre (CMEMS) of the UMinho School of Engineering were responsible for organising the event.

The minicars were built this academic semester and follow engineering principles, seeking optimum performance (no fuel or batteries are used), creative solutions, innovative design and environmental concerns, as well as fostering team spirit. Some are dragster-style and others are pinewood derby-style, using a block of pine wood and four plastic wheels.

“There are events of this kind in the UK, Germany or France, but they are more localised and lack our size, organisation and experience,” explains coordinator Paulo Flores. He once again invited lecturers in Mechanical Engineering and related areas from other national academies where internal exhibition races are also held from time to time, and their students “were delighted and motivated” to come to Guimarães.

Surprise test requires adjusting the car

The programme highlights the speed test, in which each mini dragster car, driven by a spring, travels five metres as fast as possible. In the distance race, the vehicle that goes the furthest in a single throw wins. This was followed by the surprise race, with 15 minutes for each group to adjust the efficiency and performance of their car for a given objective. The champions’ challenge allowed a final attempt for competitors who wanted to outperform the winning minicars.

“This initiative, created in 2015, is already comparable to similar events in the USA and allows Portuguese students of Mechanical Engineering, Product Engineering and Aerospace Engineering to develop physical and virtual prototypes with various solutions, adapting the complexity to their level of scientific-technological knowledge and their connection to a future profession,” emphasises Paulo Flores. The event is part of the teaching activities of the Mechanical Engineering II Integrator Project and has attracted interest from the market, with the support of organisations such as Porsche.

Watch the GuimarãesDigital report here