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Tecnun eRacing Design, build, race, learn and enjoy.

The Tecnun single-seater is currently racing at the Assen circuit (Holland) and will soon be racing at Montmeló.

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Components of Tecnun eRacing at the Assen circuit in Holland. PHOTO: Courtesy
12/07/19 10:50 Communication Service

It was freezing cold and pouring rain that night in San Sebastian. "A bad day to start working," thought Patxi, who was facing his first shift as a security guard at the University of Navarra's campus in Ibaeta. That Friday was passing without incident: there were no cars on the car park, all the doors were securely locked and no lights had been left on.

At three o'clock in the morning Patxi went out on his rounds. All he could hear was the scuffing of his boots on the asphalt and the pattering of the rain on his mackintosh. When he reached the multi-purpose building, a murmur disturbed him. As he approached the Automotive Workshop, where the voices were coming from, he was surprised to find a group of young men who seemed to be stripping a car similar to a Formula 1 car.

-Hey, who are you? What are you doing here at this hour? -he exclaimed as he pulled out his walkie talkie.

Relax, we're from Tecnun eRacing," replied one of the boys after the initial shock.

From Tecnun what? -Patxi answered with the talkie still in his hand.

-From the School's automotive team. We build this car from scratch.

-On a Friday at this hour? -insisted the watchman, suspicious.

Yes, there are times when we're working on the single-seater.

-Sorry, it's just that today is my first day," answered Patxi, a little more relaxed. I didn't expect to find you here.

-Would you like a coffee, or rather a lime tea, to recover from the shock? -offered a student.

This anecdote that continues to circulate around the School of Engineers could have happened like this, although no one remembers with certainty who that guard was or on what specific date it happened. It is certain that someone got a fright when they found this peculiar team working in the early hours of the morning.

Ready for high competition

The single-seater is one of the main reasons why many young people decide to enrol at Tecnun. Each year they design, build and test a car for the Formula Student competition, which promotes engineering excellence among more than 2 500 students from 600 universities. Each season, races are held at various European circuits, organised by FISITA, an international automotive industry federation. These days, the Tecnun team is competing in Assen (Holland), where, according to team leader Eric Roig, "we had quite a few problems in the competition. An electronics board broke and we couldn't get it ready for the tests. We've worked as hard as we could, but we haven't been able to do it. Now we have to take advantage of the remaining days before going to Montmeló to test the car as much as possible".

In some countries, Formula Student is highly valued. "In Germany, for example, it is a very important pillar for the industry," says Manuel Alonso [Dipl.-Ing. design Industrial 15]. A few years ago, he was part of the team and currently works as a technical and product consultant at BMW. "That's why it's vital that the University has a competitive team capable of taking on the best," says group leader Eric Roig [Eng. Mechanical Engineering 19 Industrial Engineering 19].

As shown by several logos on the single-seater, a number of sponsors support the project. The company Ikor, where Mikel de la Cruz [Ing. Industrial 05 Ing. Automática 06] works, has been collaborating since 2016. This and other entities offer a professional vision in the development of complex systems and solve students' doubts. In addition, the employees involved are volunteers. "To them it brings them closer to the university world, from which they sometimes sign new talent; and, in turn, it contributes to making their company known in the environment," comments Elisa Igoa [Ing. design + Mechanics 20].

eRacing's budget amounts to 100,000 euros, 60 percent financed by the University and 40 percent by private contributions. About twenty sponsors help the team by supplying some parts or providing training. At the beginning of the season, the future engineers have to decide which aspects they want to maintain and which aspects they want to improve with respect to the previous prototype with the available resources.

Andoni Medina [Industrial Eng. 09], professor of Vehicle Technology, is the coordinator of project. "We turn to him if we have any doubts or problems," says Ignacio Vera. Until last academic year they also counted on the financial aid of Professor Juan Mari Egaña, who retired in August 2018. Even so, any collaboration is little. What surprised Arrate García [Eng. Electronics 20] the most is the amount of working hours behind the construction of the car. Despite this, he likes this excess of activity. So much so that he does not rule out going into the automotive industry professionally.

María Serrano Martínez [Industrial Engineer 19] came to Tecnun eRacing following in the footsteps of her older brother, Nicolás [Industrial Technical Engineer 16 Master in Industrial Engineering 18], who works at Lander Simulation. I hadn't even considered participating," confesses María. I didn't understand how my brother could dedicate so many hours (and so many nights) to a project like this". But she soon knew why she was doing it: "I realized that I could discover different aspects. It also gave me the opportunity to meet some of my best friends. Here you learn everything, you get your hands dirty, you make a thousand mistakes, but at the end of the season the only thing that matters is that project has come through and that you have been part of the achievement."

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