Hey there!

My name is Jemma and I’m in my 4th year of Mechanical Engineering at UNSW. I’m also the Vehicle Modelling Manager for UNSW Redback Racing; a team that competes against other universities to design, build, test and race a formula-style electric race car. The competition itself is called FSAE-A (Formula Society of Automotive Engineers – Australasia) and is an excellent opportunity to showcase the design and performance of our car. Although our major competition only takes place annually, there are countless hours put in by the team developing the car throughout the year to ensure we have a competitive edge on track. 

Redback work happens throughout the week, but our big day for design and development is on Saturday. I’ll be giving you a rundown of what a typical Saturday looks like for me as a Manager of Vehicle Modelling at Redback Racing.

10am - Leads meeting

With the allure of a coffee (and if we’re lucky, a Krispy Kreme) the day starts with a big meeting amongst executive members, leads and managers within the team. As a manager it’s a great opportunity to get an update from both the business and technical departments on their weekly progress and major roadblocks. The meeting also provides an insight into the short-term direction of the team and can cover a variety of topics depending on if we’re in a design, manufacturing, or testing phase. I’ll then get the chance to catch up with my Department Lead to go over major tasks Vehicle Modelling needs to complete throughout the day.

11am – Vehicle Modelling members arrive, department meeting

Then it’s my turn to run a meeting with the Vehicle Modelling team.  I’ll begin the meeting with some general updates, then pass it onto the floor to have everyone else go over the tasks they’re going to tick off for the day.  

The Vehicle Modelling group’s primary job is to determine optimal design parameters for our vehicle through modelling and simulation. Our areas of responsibility include the suspension, brakes, driveline, and steering system. Once optimal parameters have been determined, we pass these values on to the Structures Department who develop computer models and physical designs.  The team consists of eight engineers working on modelling or design projects for vehicle components within our scope, as well as four new members.

11:30am – Individual catch up with team members

Within Vehicle Modelling, there’s a huge amount of variation in the work that we do. My team is currently working on an enclosure design and mounting solutions for high and low voltage electrical components on our 2021 car. Additionally, we have an engineer re-designing the car’s control arms using CAD and a software called SusProg3D. To add even more variety to the mix, we have another team of engineers creating a model of the car using MATLAB to simulate lap times for different dynamic events that take place during competition. My job as a manager is to keep informed on each project and help their progress. This can mean allocating resources, contacting other departments for information, or hopping on the project myself to lend a hand. 

1pm – Lunch 

Best time of the day! Often there’s a team order that goes out for pizza or Subway that will arrive. The whole team takes a step away from their computers and sits down together to catch up and socialize. This is an awesome way to get to know members of the team and to meet new people. 

2pm – Individual work 

Once lunch is over, I get the chance to catch up on some individual work I have for Redback. This might mean going down to our lab to check components for the car, having a chat with other departments, or sitting at a desk and working on my laptop. This is normally where I clean up outstanding tasks from the week or plan for the week ahead.

Redback Racing UNSW
5pm onwards – Wrap up

In the late afternoon to early evening, team members will finish their work and head home. For each project, an update will be posted to our Microsoft Teams channel for progress made over the day. I’ll often stick around to chat with people in other departments about what they’ve been working on or any interesting upcoming projects. Sometimes there’ll be a team-wide invite to go out for dinner which is always a lot of fun. Otherwise, I’ll call it a day and head home after another successful Saturday session with Redback Racing! 

If you’re keen to find out more about UNSW Redback Racing or keep up to date with what we get up to, you can follow us on Instagram or Facebook!