“Having chosen Electronics as my major, I thought I would miss building mechanical contraptions. But Ashwa racing resolved this, allowing me to enjoy the best of both worlds. Seeing the Formula Student prototype car on the orientation day, I realized that I was at the right place I had imagined myself, satisfying my childhood dream of building cars. What’s better that building a car? Building a race car!
I always felt building a hybrid is actually more challenging than a pure EV or combustion car. You have both a high-voltage accumulator as well as an ICE to deal with, each of which has its own set of constraints. Moreover, you have to figure out how to get the two systems working together to achieve the optimal balance of performance and efficiency. It’s a herculean task. Passing electrical inspection at Formula Hybrid was the toughest part of the project. It was a great challenge and that feeling of accomplishment when we put the inspection stickers on the car and watching the car on the track is truly rewarding. Interacting with students from top universities, watching their cars running, observing and understanding the working of the other cars on the track, not only give us a valuable learning experience and gives us ideas to what we can do better.
Building Hybrid car was a real game changer. I found passion in all things EV, from batteries to motors, to autonomous cars (and hopefully participate in FSD sometime in the near future). In words of Elon Musk “I could either watch it happen or be a part of it ”, Being a part of Ashwa has allowed me to actively be part of electric vehicle evolution.
For me, Formula Student is a never ending learning experience. I learned more than I did from any class and that went beyond just engineering knowledge. I found my limits, my passions, and my shortfalls in Formula SAE.”
“I joined ashwa in my first year of engineering. I signed up for the engine subsystem because I loved the idea that the engine powered the entire car.
During my time with the team, I learnt a lot. But I consider the following five lessons to be the most important things I learnt.
I worked hard on studying about the engine through first year. Unfortunately, at the end of first year, our entire suspension team quit. My immediate senior decided to shift me onto suspension. That was lesson one. Sometimes life just deals you a bad hand. And you can choose to make the best of it. Or sulk about it.
Naturally, I chose to sulk about it. Till I realized that there was nobody really stopping me from working on the engine, as long as I fulfilled my responsibilities on suspension.
So I got to work. Reading up. A lot. Working on multiple iterations. Understanding suspension as a system. Funny enough, the more I studied suspension, the more I realized that it was an infinite puzzle. There is no one solution to suspension like there is to the other systems. And I have loved puzzles from a very young age. I was hooked. Maybe I wasn’t dealt a bad hand after all.
The second lesson ashwa taught me, is crisis management. Keeping cool under pressure. Close to the event, we were told one of our components was not rule compliant. This would prevent us from competing. We didn’t have the resources (time or money) to go through design, manufacturing and testing again. But by staying calm, reasoned discussion with all stakeholders we were able to convince the rule committee that we were rule compliant. Saving 2% of yearly budget by just staying calm. Pretty cool.
Lesson three was about failure. In life. You will fail. Things will go wrong. Sometimes horribly. Sometimes the hopes of 15 people will come crashing down because of one person. Sometimes you are that one person. All you can do is pick yourself up. Get back on your feet. And get to work again. You’ve never really failed until you’ve given up.
Lesson four was about courage. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in. Even if that means being hated by everyone else. Ashwa gave me that opportunity, to be hated. It taught me what it felt like to fight alone for what you believe in. I was raised to believe strongly in my principles and stand up for them. Ashwa gave me a real taste of what that felt like.
And last but not the least, lesson five. Ashwa taught me to put people first. A strong team is bound to win. If not at first, sooner or later. The people that constitute the team are more important than anything else. The bond between members is the source of all victories, however small or large they may be.
Ashwa gave me more than just friends. It gave me a family. A family that extends beyond the people you directly know. Beyond your years in college. And for many more to come.
And I am grateful to ashwa racing for giving me the opportunity to learn all of this.”
“Ashwa Racing has been a journey essentially about team work. For the three years I spent at Ashwa, I still remember all the sleepless nights we spent, working on the car and following the day travelling to sponsors for meetings. There were days with no results and a bit of frustration. But, there were better days too when we got people to understand our struggle and initiative. People coming out of their way to push for us and getting us the support we needed, a feeling simply priceless. All this translates to a learning curve unlike anything.
I have been part of the engine and sponsorship team. We were the first batch who took up the Suzuki GSXR engine and boy did we have sleepless nights over it. Along with this, my responsibilities as part of the sponsorship team harboured my love for marketing.
Working today, I realize the immense value Ashwa teaches every member of the team- work as a team and respect everyone’s opinion. That fundamentally is what makes a leader. I miss the workshop and the innumerable discussions we have had there.”
“I had set my sights on Ashwa Racing well before joining college after having been exposed to the Formula Student phenomenon. For me, Formula Student came first and the college studies were almost an afterthought (especially in the latter stages). Being in workshop for most of the times (in the later stages I sojourned in workshop for months, where the race seats became mattresses), it became a home away from home (which lies as north as any in India).
FS is one of the rarest legal addictions. It causes nights to be as short as they are in Greenland during the summer so much so that people happily entangled in it forget to sleep. It provides an environment where one can become ambidextrous in Engineering and Management domains. It’s only one of the few things that makes one become Obsessively Compulsive about shaving few microns off in a part and rectifying those peaky non symmetric cell borders in an excel sheet(cost reports!!). It makes one come out a conservative shell. It always leaves one wanting more of it.
The great Urdu and Persian poet Mirza Ghalib in the 1800’s said the following which succinctly expressed his feelings at the time :
“Hazaaron khwaheeshen aisi ki har khwahesh pay dum nikale,
Bahhut nikale meray armaan lekin phir bhi kam nikale…”
Yet they succinctly signify my feelings towards Formula student in the 21st century. Even after being part of Six Formula student events in one way or another, one still feels unsatisfied and craves for more.”
“Ashwa Racing is the best thing that happened to me during my undergrad.
It was a very enriching experience. I got to learn about both technical and managerial skills and moreover that both are equally important to achieve success.
The subsystems I worked on were Engine and Sponsorship, Marketing and PR. I joined Sponsorship purely out of interest in managerial roles and Engine, that’s the heart of the car! I loved opening the engine. I learnt how simple yet complicated the engine is. I also loved working with the electronics associated with engine. That was something new and interesting to learn.
Working with the team, I learnt a lot about team dynamics and how we need to keep pulling each other up. I miss those days and sleepless nights in the workshop.”
“I joined R V College of Engineering to be a part of Ashwa Racing and eventually realised it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. During my training sessions in first year, I ensued a lot of interest in working of power train. I wanted to contribute towards efficient transmission of power that is ideally required by a race car. Thus I took up the role of Drive Train and Human resources. It has been a great learning in terms of technical and managerial aspects. The challenges increased when I was chosen as the Team Captain. This was my first step towards leadership. But as they say, “no one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” Working as a captain would have been difficult without the trust and support of my teammates. Ashwa Racing has not only improved my engineering skills but also helped me grow as an individual. I’ve made the best friends here, who are family now.”Gokul Suresh
“Engineering for me was 90% Formula Student life and 10% college (for issuing innumerable attendance exemption letters). Being part of team Ashwa Racing was a 1 or 0 thing for me. The motorsport DNA once injected never leaves you in peace. Its a never ending thirst of 80 members team to do finest engineering, giving attention to smallest details and building it all element by element like professional craftsmen – a race car. Its here you learn that, defeat doesn’t necessarily come over, only when there is a fatigue failure in your suspension or drive-train components. You may lose if logistics get delayed by few hours, you may lose if Emirates keep your Hybrid car batteries on hold before flight, you may lose if your car rusts as it travels across the sea to reach the event site, you may lose if your suspension points are off by few microns OR you may lose if your drivers have over eaten during post shipping period. You can lose due to 1158 other reasons as such, but you win only when you do all of these right. Its a constant hourly trade-off between ( few budding engineering brains) Vs (fixed budgets, happy sponsors, no second chance). After going through all these for 4 long years, you know you were part of Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE), when you feel you deserve 2 promotions straight on the first day of your corporate life. Probably this is why many alumni are doing great in their engineering careers.”Rohith Gajula
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