Le Mans, held near the town of Le Mans, France, is a 24-hour endurance race that is run on closed public roads. The race was originally established in 1923 and is part of the Triple Crown of Motor sports which includes the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. Participation by a university team at the historic race will be a first-ever event. Le Mans is unique to other Grand Prix racing because it places a higher priority on vehicle reliability and fuel efficiency given the nature of the course and length of the race. These requirements, plus the focus on aerodynamics drove the Tokai University team’s decision to use Pro/ENGINEER as the MCAD software for the race car’s design.
Professor Yoshimasa Hayashi from the Tokai University Research Institute of Science and Technology is the leader of the Le Mans project. Speaking on the importance of Pro/ENGINEER to the vehicle’s design, Professor Hayashi said, "Pro/ENGINEER is a very straightforward tool and it enables an engineer to freely design to their heart’s content. It is easy-to-use because the principles in the product are similar to the way that an engineer thinks. Additionally, the product includes all the main capabilities that we required like simulation and analysis.”
An automobile engine is a concentration of basic engineering knowledge such as material mechanics, thermodynamics, applied mechanics and fluid mechanics. The fact that the students designed the comprehensive system is a great educational achievement itself. Adding to this feat, the students increased the project’s success by also designing the rest of the competition vehicle. The value of these achievements was one of the reasons why the Tokai University Team was formally approved for participation in the race among many other entries from all over the world.
As part of their education, Professor Hayashi also stresses to his students that the world of product development can be extremely unsympathetic and if expected results are not achieved failure can result. “I hope my students will learn through this real-life exercise what it means to put their whole soul into product development. I am extremely proud of what they have already accomplished by developing a competition vehicle for Le Mans, and I have to admit that they could not have gone this far without Pro/ENGINEER," concluded Professor Hayashi.
"Pro/ENGINEER provides leading capabilities for design optimization such as PTC’s Behavioral Modeling® technology. This captures multiple requirements as parameters to automatically create most suitable design as well as a suite of modules focused on styling, design simulation and machining,” said Michael Campbell, senior vice president, Product Management, PTC. “In particular, Pro/ENGINEER has a proven track record for power train design. The Tokai University Team's achievement in the development of the racing car for Le Mans illustrates the effectiveness of Pro/ENGINEER in automobile development. Also, the fact that the students could build such a car proves that Pro/ENGINEER is both user-friendly and intuitive."
This year's Le Mans 24-hour Endurance Race is to be held in Sarthe Circuit as in previous years on June 11th and 12th for elimination rounds, and on June 14th and 15th for finals. The Tokai University Team conducted the final test run in Japan and overseas in May for final conditioning.
About the Tokai University Le Mans Project
Started in 2001 under the guidance of Professor Yoshimasa Hayashi, the project is aimed at adopting full-scale product development into engineering education, attracting students as the project that they can work with dreams. In 2005, the project built a study car in cooperation with YGK Co., Ltd. This year the machine was completed after 7 years of development, and at the same time their participation in Le Mans was formally approved. The machine, the realization of the 150 students and graduates' dream, will run for Le Mans 24-Hour Endurance Race in this June. Le Mans Project English Website: http://www.u-tokai.ac.jp/lemans/english/index.html.
About PTC’s Global Education Program
PTC's education program provides teachers and professors with complete learning solutions to prepare a new generation for success in a technological world. From secondary school to the university level, PTC gives students the ultimate in product development education by providing software, training and classroom materials to educators worldwide. Their education program is a part of a technological literacy movement that seeks to improve critical thinking and multidimensional problem-solving skills as well as preparing a growing number of students to become engineers.
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