The CSU Formula SAE team members dedicate hours of their time outside the classroom in this hands-on, engaging experience. They are committed to designing and building the best prototype – and found that Lenovo provides the tool they need to succeed. This customer testimonial highlights how the Lenovo ThinkStation S series is an exceptionally fast and powerful workstation that enables the CSU students to run more simulations and make more revisions, ultimately creating a better Formula race car.
CSU students run intensive simulations and performance tests while working on the design of the car. In 2011, the PC the team was using took upwards of 12 hours to complete just one simulation – limiting the total number of revisions and engineering improvements that could be made during the design process. There was a clear need to upgrade to a workstation with more power and speed to support faster simulation turnaround time.
When students first sit down to develop the concept for the car, the amount of design work is extremely intensive. Students spend 40-50 hours a week running simulations and testing performance, working on perfecting each element of the design of the prototype. A part is designed, tested and revised – again and again. There are tests for each specific aspect of the car – for example, the Finite Element Analysis tests the strength of the components of the car under real life conditions – and each gets dedicated time and attention.
The old PC the team was operating was frustratingly slow, reducing the number of simulations and design iterations that could be completed – ultimately holding the team back from designing the best car they could. With the team committing so much time, energy and passion to the project, the students recognized a need to make an upgrade to a solution with more power and agility.
Ryan Neff, CSU FSAE Marketing and Engine Control Systems Director, met Lenovo representatives in July 2011 at the Planet PTC Conference. Neff, and several other members of the team, shared what they do for FSAE, the hardware and software they use to design the race car and the challenges they faced using their current solution. Lenovo was extremely excited by the work these students put into the project and after discussing the team’s needs, ultimately donated an ideal workstation– a customized Lenovo ThinkStation S Series workstation.
The ThinkStation immediately improved the CSU’s FSAE team performance allowing them to do more in less time. Its Intel Xeon processor is ideal for meeting the demanding performance requirements and the 12 GB of memory and an NVIDIA Quadro 4000 gives the PC the power, speed and visualization abilities necessary to keep up with round-the-clock, intense use. In addition, dual hard drives aid in speed and archiving.
“The ThinkStation is a dedicated simulation and design workhorse. Since we installed it in our shop in August 2011, there has been a simulation running on it 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Ryan Neff.
The CSU team is currently designing their 2012 FSAE car, the first that will be completed using the new Lenovo PC. The car will be built by mid- April and go to competition in June.
“It’s simple – the ThinkStation S Series is ridiculously fast,” said Neff. “We’ve cut down the per simulation run time from 12-24 hours to 2-3 hours. This has allowed us to quadruple – or more – the amount of revisions we can make to the design – which will translate directly to a better car.”
For example, the team completes an enormous amount of analysis prior to choosing a final aerodynamics package for the car. The run time for aero simulations is incredibly long, and the team completes thousands of these simulations to ensure the car’s aero performance is perfect. With the old PC, the students could only complete one simulation a day. “The ThinkStation allows us to complete the simulations in a fraction of the time. We’ve decreased the cycle time and will be able to identify our final aerodynamics package much faster,” said Neff.
The ThinkStation S Series also accommodates the team’s resource heavy software such as PTC Creo Elements Pro and EFX, which allows them to accurately model the car’s complex frame. According to Neff, “The ThinkStation is perfectly suited to run such programs, and gives the team a large advantage in getting the chassis designed very quickly.”
“Lenovo’s help this year has been invaluable,” said Neff. “With the Lenovo ThinkStation, we’ve pushed design envelopes, which will aid in finalproduct quality and performance.” In June 2012, the car goes to competition and the CSU FSAE team looks to place in the top 10 overall and in the top 5 U.S teams.