15 September 2013

FSI helps students build award winning race car

University of Canterbury race car 2

In 2013, Foot Science International (FSI) helped a team of students create a race car. The UC race car was constructed in part using FSI’s CNC router machine and was entered by University of Canterbury (New Zealand) into the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) competition, used to test students’ engineering abilities.

To design a functional car from scratch, adhering to a 300+ page rule book is no easy project. “FSI has New Zealand's largest CNC router (a 3D milling machine that is also used to make Formthotics™) so the sheer size of it made it the ideal workhorse for machining our body work and seat mould”, says Lead Engineer (Bodywork and Aerodynamics), Daniel Smith.

University of Canterbury race car with FSI logoUniversity of Canterbury race car bodywork 1

The Formthotics CNC router made production of the large complicated geometry a lot quicker and more accurate than would have been possible with traditional manual methods.

FSI Production Manager, Scott Jennings, managed to fit all the machining around quieter moments in production, which meant no night-time work was necessary. The team made countless visits to the FSI factory – talking tools and watching car parts come to life.

“The complexity and time constraints of the project led to some tight deadlines on part machining, and fortunately FSI did all they could to help us meet them. Just as well, as we fitted the body panels to the chassis just days before the car was loaded into the container for shipping to Australia!” says Daniel.

“The car bodywork was designed using CAD. The digital 3D model was then used as the basis for the body plugs. There were 5 separate parts – nose cone, two side panels, under tray/diffuser and the seat”, says Team Principal and Race Engineer, Tim White.

“The advantage of using the router was that we could produce the body model extremely accurately from our CAD model without leaving any room for guesswork. This resulted in an excellent fit up of all the body panels when they were finished that not only saved us time but also resulted in extremely high quality bodywork, particularly for a group of students that had never made anything from carbon fibre let alone a race car body”.

“The FSI staff were friendly and helpful throughout. The team would like to thank Scott Jennings for his phenomenal input into this project – the result wouldn't be near what it is without his expertise and guidance”, says Daniel.


  • The team received the Inspired Engineering Award at prize-giving, which recognises exceptional engineering ability and attention to detail.
  • Of the 23 teams, UC's race car was one of only nine cars to finish both endurance races, and one of only two cars from the 23 selected to be driven by a professional driver in a test session.
  • A design judge that has worked at Boeing Aerospace and Aston Martin Racing told the team that of all the cars in the competition, he favoured the UC race car the most. 

Category: Training