Top Ford Engineer helps U of M students on hybrid car project

A top engineer at Ford, Paul Aldighieri, was on campus to help engineering students build hybrid hot rods.

Aldighieri delivered a seminar at the University of Manitoba on Friday, Sept. 24, on the award winning technology he helped Ford develop, after which he was on hand to help students on the Formula Hybrid team of the University of Manitoba Society of Automotive Engineers (UMSAE).

A group of approximately 30 engineering students make up the team, who compete with universities across North America in the SAE Formula Hybrid competition.

The focus of the competition is to design a top-notch hybrid autocross vehicle.

“It’s a battery powered electric vehicle, so that’s the major focus of the project,” explained University of Manitoba’s Formula Hybrid team member Robbie Brar.

“This is purely for learning, developing skills, and hopefully getting a job in the field one day.”
May 2011 will mark the third competition the University of Manitoba has entered.

Aldighieri part of the developmental team behind award winning technologies from such as “MyFord” and “Sync.”

While researching how to develop these technologies, he found that many people establish relationships with their vehicles. This is particularly relevant in Western Canada where many people own trucks, which they use for their businesses.

“Here in Western Canada, trucks are important and we talked to truckers, and people who use trucks for a living, and it’s not just their means of transportation. They depend on it to feed their family,” explained Aldighieri.

Aldighieri is advising the Formula Hybrid team on how to better build a relationship between their hybrid racer and its driver, and what information is critical for the driver of the hybrid vehicle to have.

“I’ve been talking to [Robbie Brar] about [how to] think about what the critical thing you need to get to your driver, [ . . . ] then design it in a way that clearly says that one thing,” explained Aldighieri.

Engineer in residence and faculty advisor to UMSAE, Malcolm Symonds explained that the SAE and its competition are vital to engineering students because they provide students with practical, hands-on experience.

“This is looked on as being very valuable by industries around Manitoba, and for that matter around the world,” said Symonds.

Symonds went on to explain that these competitions are used as a training tool for aspiring engineers, and a number of industries give preference to students who have worked on SAE projects when hiring new employees.

“Its really important the students continue doing what they’re doing,” said Symonds.
UMSAE is also working on building a non-hybrid racecar, a Baja car — a type of off-road vehicle — and an aircraft.