Letter from Torino: Smith
Engineers Designing Vehicles for the Future
Five Smith engineers make up a team participating
in this year’s Vehicle
Design Summit (VDS), a global consortium of teams working to design, build
and market the VDS Vision 200, a four- to six-passenger vehicle that will reduce
energy use and polluting emissions by 95 percent.
The Vehicle Design Summit was started in 2006 by
student engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who produced an initial
round of four test vehicles using alternative energy. This summer’s VDS Phase
2 aims to test a marketable vehicle to be refined and ready for mass production
and sales in India by the end of 2009.
Smith team, working in Torino, Italy, is charged with developing the car’s
chassis and interior. Team leader Sari Field ’09 recently wrote to Linda
Jones, director of the Picker Engineering Program, with an update of her team’s
Dear Prof. Jones,
I arrived in Torino roughly two weeks ago (Alison, Darcy,
and Elizabeth about three weeks ago), and since then we have made a lot of progress.
In the first week, we familiarized ourselves with Italian culture and the city of
Torino. I was immediately assigned to the [VDS] team developing the chassis and working
toward the drive tests, along with Darcy. Alison and Elizabeth have had the dual
task of designing the interior and working to develop the Smith team and design clinic
||Pictured at the World Design Capital from left to right:
Alison Cloutier '08, Sari Field '09, and Elizabeth Dulac '08
There are several students that organize and lead successful
Formula 1 competition teams at their schools, who have agreed to help Alison and
Elizabeth improve and plan for a strong Smith team next year. Elizabeth is also working
on the Web site, and has created a logo for the Smith team [pictured]. I have been
placed in charge of all students and teams here. I am excited for this opportunity
and was honored to be chosen for this position.
The first week we spent a lot of time researching and
sourcing a complete materials and tooling list for the prototype. I worked on the
list for the chassis and suspension, while Darcy, Elizabeth, and Alison worked on
a list for the interior. We visited Nuova Demolizione, a half-junkyard/half-zoo.
There was even a camel! Already we have greatly improved our knowledge of all components
of the car as this is common language among the students here.
After sourcing and determining materials and tooling,
we are finalizing designs in SolidWorks. Alison and Elizabeth spent a 24-hour CAD
session [??] their second day here working to compile an assembly of the model to
be presented at the initial conferences with companies, which provided an excellent
learning opportunity. Darcy and I are also using SolidWorks to model, and have had
mini-lessons with some of the students here with extensive SolidWorks background.
We took a field trip to the "Speed" exhibit
at the Museo Dell'Automobile, which showcased record-breaking vehicles. This exhibit
is the second part of the "Trilogy of the Automobile," an event to celebrate
Torino as the World
Design Capital and to honor the history of the car. The third installment of
the trilogy is the Dream Expo to showcase the past 60 years of car design and to
highlight the best designed vehicles from major manufacturers.
Vehicle Design Summit is the only student-led group
scheduled to participate in the exposition this September, at which we will showcase
our prototype and a scale model of the car. Therefore, in addition to designing and
building the rolling prototype, we are also working on planning, designing, and implementing
a showcase for the Dream Expo. Unfortunately, we will be back at Smith at that time
and will miss the big exhibit.
Outside of work, we have explored Torino a little. We
visited the Basilica, which is set on the mountainside and provides a gorgeous view
of the city. This weekend, we are traveling to Cinque Terra to enjoy the sun (hopefully)
on the beach.
Thank you and hope all is well,
Sari (and team)
Team Leader, Vehicle Design Summit