Interview – Prom Racing

Introduce your team briefly. 

Prom Racing represents the National Technical University of Athens in Formula Student competitions since 2008 when it was established by 5 undergraduate mechanical engineers, who were driven by their love for motorsport. Up to now, we have constructed 4 combustion racing cars. Following the tendency of the worldwide automotive industry towards the electric era, this year we decided to make the transition to the electric vehicle category.

Last year was the most successful season in our team’s history. The team followed a one-year plan and participated, with our fourth racing car, in three of the most challenging competitions throughout Europe, Hungary (10th place), Austria (9th place), and Germany (10th place). We successfully finished the Endurance event in two of them and we participated twice in the Design & Engineering Finals. Another highlight was that we were the first Greek team to win in a dynamic event, Skidpad, while almost breaking the all-time world record falling short by just 0.02 sec.

How did the cancellation of the formula student competitions impact your team?

The covid-19 outbreak has had a serious impact on our team. We were forced to postpone all the manufacturing processes of our first electric vehicle and all the marketing activities (events, video shooting for “Prom Show”) due to safety reasons. Moreover, the competitions’ annulment spread great disappointment throughout the whole team, as we would not be able to see our hard work bear fruit. Making the most out of this situation, we reevaluated the organizational plan and rescheduled the manufacturing and testing periods on a two-year basis.

How did your team deal with the situation, what challenges did you face and how did you resolve them?

Despite the difficult situation the whole world is still facing, we continued working from home. All sub-teams communicated through online meetings. To make good use of this extra time, the team focused on testing and simulating some design ideas. The electronics department continued the research and performed some experiments, following all safety regulations from home. Furthermore, another serious challenge we faced during the lockdown was the compliance with our sponsors’ agreements. We immediately communicated with all of them to assure the terms or to re-negotiate for future cooperation.

What will you do differently for the online event?

Formula Student Online competition is a great opportunity for all teams to take valuable feedback. Consequently, our participation has been decided without any hesitation. Of course, an online event cannot replace in any case the atmosphere and the challenges of a real Formula Student competition, but we need to adapt. This year our focus will be to improve our performance in the static events, receive feedback, and work on it in order to be even more competitive next year and in the years to come.

What is your biggest achievement in Formula Student so far?

Our biggest achievement is winning 1st place in Skidpad in FS East 2019, falling short behind the world record by 0.02 sec. Equally important is the team’s participation in the Design & Engineering Finals in FS Germany 2019 and FS Austria 2019.

Do you believe the future of Formula Student can adapt to the COVID-19 crisis and how?

Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on our lives in all aspects. As expected, the institution of Formula Student has been affected too, which led to the cancellation of all the competitions. Nevertheless, the passion shared inside the community cannot be decreased, so everyone embraced the online events, that Formula Student is launching to adapt in the unprecedented situation. It is a great opportunity for all teams to improve their statics’ presentations and receive feedback for mechanical & electrical design.

What can the Formula Student organizing bodies do to help the struggling teams due to the current events?

The organizing bodies of Formula Student may help by providing each team with in-depth feedback about their presentations and competition documents. This way, teams will be even more prepared for the static events the next year. We in Prom Racing consider the feedback procedure to arguably be the most important part of the competition and will definitely use it efficiently in the upcoming events.

Do you think there are any positive outcomes for the competition from the current situation?

We understand how difficult the current situation is for all the teams that put in the hard work and dedication to complete their task of manufacturing a fully functioning racing car. The lockdown has provided the teams with additional time to focus more on research and development of optimal solutions, that can be utilized to create more efficient and competitive vehicles in the future. Do you think it is beneficial for the teams to participate in an online competition and why?
A team will definitely benefit from participating in an online competition. Firstly, feedback can be crucial for the team’s total improvement. Moreover, it is a great opportunity for the new members of each team to be familiarized with the static events of a Formula Student competition and to get involved in the judging procedure, as well as meet the other participating teams.