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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 with rain that night in San Sebastian. "A bad day to start work", thought Patxi, who was starting his first shift as a security guard at the Ibaeta campus of the University of Navarra. That Friday was going without incident: there were no cars in 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. Industrial Design 15]. A few years ago, he was part of the team and now 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 [Mechanical Engineering 19 Industrial Engineering 19].

As several logos on the single-seater show, a number of sponsors are backing the project. The company Ikor, where Mikel de la Cruz [Industrial Engineering 05 Automatic Engineering 06] works, has been collaborating since 2016. This and other entities offer a professional vision in the development of complex systems and resolve students' doubts. In addition, the employees involved are volunteers. "It brings them closer to the university world, from which they sometimes recruit new talent; and, in turn, it helps their company to be known in their environment", says Elisa Igoa [Eng. Design + Mechanics 20].

The eRacing budget amounts to 100,000 euros, 60 per cent of which is financed by the University and 40 per cent 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 Engineer 09], professor of Vehicle Technology, is the project coordinator. "We turn to him if we have any doubts or problems," says Ignacio Vera. Until last year, they also had the help of Professor Juan Mari Egaña, who retired in August 2018. Even so, any collaboration is not enough. What surprised Arrate García [Electronic Engineering 20] most is the number of hours of work that go into 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 immediately knew why she was doing it: "I realised that I could discover different aspects. It has also given 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 the project has gone ahead and that you have been part of the achievement.

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