My European Experience- Formula Student Germany 2019 and Key Takeaways
Here I was, standing right in front of the Chennai International Airport, waiting for my complete team(Pravega Racing) to assemble. I was about to start my first International trip to Europe for the International Design Competition: Formula Student Germany 2019 and I still couldn’t believe that all this was for real.
Growing up watching Bollywood movies made me realize that Airports are meant to be dramatic. I felt it at that moment. I was the first member of my family to travel abroad. So, my parent’s proud yet concerned voice was continuously playing in the background of my mind.
Having done all the airport formalities, we finally boarded the plane. Throughout the journey, my excitement was way above my flight’s altitude (I suppose😅). I managed to get a window seat and remained awake for my urge to watch Burj Khalifa just before landing at Dubai. It was indeed one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen! 😍
We couldn’t explore Dubai Airport much as we were in a hurry to board our next flight. But the maintenance and handling even after being the world’s busiest airport was commendable.
The next pleasant thing I experienced was the Emirates services including the staff, food, entertainment channels and their live telemetry of the information regarding flight status, surroundings and forecasts.
We finally reached Frankfurt!
We used the Airport WiFi for installing all the necessary apps followed by reserving a cab to our hotel. We were lucky to get a Punjabi cab driver who cleared all our doubts regarding the general layout and working of the city.
Frankfurt is the financial capital of Europe and it was clearly evident in its lifestyle and on its streets.
As soon as we all settled up, the next challenge for me was to find pure vegetarian food. It took me one complete day to find decent vegetarian food nearby. I was about to declare this as the most difficult challenge until I encountered the challenge of unavailability of free drinking water. Though tap water is drinking water there but finding a tap again requires strenuous efforts.
Due to the Airport customs, our car shipment process was delayed a bit and our team was trying our best to resolve the issue. In the meantime, as we still had one buffer week before the competition, we started preparing more for the static events, i.e. Design Report, Cost Report, and Business Presentation.
Our team was divided into sub-groups and each of the group was given a different responsibility according to their roles for better functionality and time management.
I, being in the Electrical and Electronics Department, was under the role of making the car competition ready and had to leave for Heilbronn, Germany.
We are all thankful to HHN Racing, the Formula Student Team of Heilbronn University, for hosting us and providing us the workshop and the remaining resources to work on our car.
Here comes the D-Day!
Formula Student Germany 2019!
My complete journey from the beginning had come to its final destination. All the efforts, contributions, hard work and sleepless nights of the whole team were flashing in front of my eyes. I was astonished by the fact that how far I have come in these 2 years from knowing nothing about the Motorsport culture to participating in the biggest Formula Student event at Hockenheim Ring, Germany.
Formula Student Germany was definitely not just a competition for any of us; it had become an emotion we all love to live for.
FSG Organisation greeted all of us with an awesome Welcome ceremony!
On the very first day, the top 3 finalists among all the participating teams for BASF Best Use of 3-D Printing Award were announced and we were extremely proud to be one of them. We prepared and presented the Final Presentation to the best of our efforts.
We completed the pre-inspection and the driver egress. Our next aim was to clear the Technical Inspection which includes mechanical scrutiny, tilt test, noise test and brake test of our car. By then, all of our activities were started complementing with a little bad luck in one way or another. We literally had to struggle a lot for getting even the minute things done.
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
I and my Electrical Department faced a very strange challenge where we were in shortage of a complete circuit board, as our spares were not working according to the expected functionalities. We realized the gravity of the issue as it would hinder the clearing of noise test in the technical inspection, without which the car could not participate in any of the dynamic events.
In that panic situation, I was blessed to have the best teammates in my department. We all tried every possible way of figuring out the solution with the primary aim of having the circuitry with us as soon as possible.
Formula Student culture is outstanding when it comes to helping and cooperating. We asked for help with other teams as well as with the mentors. In the due course, we met Raftar Racing, the Formula Student Team of IIT-Madras. We were really thankful for all the help and guidance they had provided us regarding the same. Having done all this, we finally solved the issue and cleared the BSPD rule in just one go. We had the following “BSPD Team” picture at the end of this accomplishment.
And then came the Statics Day!
We had a Business Presentation in the morning, followed by engineering and cost analysis post-lunch. All the static events went well with minute shortcomings. The scope of improvements was informed to us via detailed feedback by FSG Judges which was followed by the “Team Photo”.
Considering my experiences until then, I’ve learned a very important life lesson that day:
Work culture of your organisation will make all the difference in the end.
If ever given chance to be at the top, Be Humble. Never let your superiority overpower the mankind.
As I finally stepped out of my pit after 3 days, I was extremely contented to experience the excellent efforts put up by the Formula Student Germany organization and all the sponsors. They had free food, beverages, free drinking water (my favourite!), outstanding mentorship, various career and sponsorship offers, fun games, photographic booths and extremely useful and innovative goodies ranging from t-shirt,stickers, key rings, bags, caps, bottles, all kinds of stationery, pop socket, smartwatches, power bank and whatnot. It was all for free and Trust me; it was the best part of the whole FSG. I wish I could go back and have them all again 😁
The power of communication and connecting to people is often underrated! Despite the diversity, do talk to people as much as you can. There is always something to learn from each and everyone.
After all the hurdles and challenges, we finally cleared Technical Inspection and got into the dynamics by the end of the 4th Day.
Our car was competed in the Autocross and Endurance event but could not perform well because of some internal issues with the engine which we troubleshot and got it rectified lately.
Formula Student Germany is more about learning from our mistakes and improving them to be the best version of ourselves rather than competing with anyone else.
We stood First in BASF Best Use of 3D Printing Award and had our first ever podium at FSG in the history of Pravega Racing. We scored 100/150 points in Design and Engineering event placing us at 15th overall position. We stood 15th in Business Plan Presentation as well with 65/75 points.
And the event concluded with the “FSG after Party” having free food and beer and an unlimited dose of music, dance, fun with all the excitement and joy. Everyone was happy as everyone had put their life out for this competition.
FSG was an amazing roller-coaster ride one could’ve ever been to. It taught me the engineering, team management, work culture required to be at the top, failure management, the power of strong connections and above all it taught me how important is it to have a competition with oneself before anyone else in the world.
As the competition ended, our team went back to Heilbronn for packing of the car for shipping it back to India. Later in the evening, I started my sightseeing journey to Munich and Paris.
Though Munich was my personal favorite among all the cities I’ve been to, Paris was a little crowded yet beautiful than the average European places.
European cities carry a different level of peace and history within them which cannot be explained by anyone. They are all amazingly pretty and well organized. We explored the places to the best of our extent with each passing day.
On my final journey back to India, I closed my eyes for a moment and thanked my super supportive parents, without whom this could never have happened in first place. My experience was way more satisfactory than I expected it to be considering the exposure and life lessons I got could not get any better.
I hope you will get a chance to visit any of the International competition. If provided, utilize it to the fullest and explore as much as you can!
And above everything, do not forget to have Fun!
I am super excited to share that my article was featured and shared by the official Formula Student Germany LinkedIn page and can be found here.
The sky’s not the limit, you are. You set the bar!