Formula Hybrid Changes During The Pandemic

While teams, volunteers, and judges alike expected that Formula Hybrid + Electric would be back on track in 2021, it just wasn’t possible.  In many cases, students were unable to access their lab spaces where they were to build their cars.  Even if they could get to their labs, restrictions on the number of students allowed made meaningful work all but impossible.  FH+E 2021 would be virtual with a chance of the 2022 competition being on track.

Armed with the experience of 2020, the Design and Project Management events and the ESF reviews will be held virtually for 2021.  In order to make 2021 more enjoyable and challenging, two new events were created.  First, the Optimal Hybrid Challenge was added to the Design event.  Teams were challenged to develop an aspect of a Hybrid car from scratch as a building block for the 2022 and beyond competitions.  All teams were expected to stretch their understanding of hybrid technology whether they planned to compete as a Hybrid or Electric team in 2021.  Final presentations will be held in April 0f 2021. The judges are eagerly awaiting the final presentations.

New for 2021 is the Virtual Racing Challenge.  Partnering with iRacing (online racing service) and McLaren Applied (professional telemetry and data acquisition software integrated with iRacing), teams were provided licenses for USF2000 open-wheel cars and the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Road Course.  Teams will be driving virtually on a portion of the course usually used for the on-track Endurance Event.  While it is planned that teams will have a chance to race wheel-to-wheel at the end of the event, the main focus is to enable the teams to experience race car setup and working with an experienced driver during setup.

Each team is expected to drive their car as much as they would like and to tweak the car’s set-up factors that are allowed to be changed on the real car (for example, ride height, spring rate, tire pressures).  The team will then virtually hand their car over to a “blue ribbon” driver who will take a few laps on the NHMS Road Course and will then provide the team feedback on the car.  Armed with the driver’s feedback and the telemetry from McLaren Applied, teams will implement a final setup.  The “blue ribbon” driver will then take a few hot laps and the team’s car that achieves the lowest lap time will be awarded the most points.

For 2021, the Sponsor Expo has also taken a big step forward.  The IEEE’s session titled “How Formula Hybrid Fast-Tracks Careers: Conversation with Past Competitors" will enable team members to benefit from the experiences FH+E alums of Abigail Davidson, Director of Programs at IBEOS; Missy Chmielowiec, Quality Assurance Engineer at Thermo Fisher Scientific; and Nathalie Capati, Founder and Principal Engineer at The Battery Lab.  In addition, in a session hosted by The Thayer School of Engineering, Pat Symonds, CTO of Formula 1, will be talking about an inside look into his career in motorsport, the attributes needed for high-value engineers, and how Formula 1 is working to help decarbonize the future.

Sponsor Expo Webinar information may be found on the Formula Hybrid + Electric Announcements page here.

All members of the Formula Hybrid + Electric family are currently working incredibly hard on the 2021 competition.  We couldn’t be more proud of our student team members, volunteers, and sponsors. 

While we’ll be “VROOOM by ZOOM” in ‘21, we can’t wait to be “Back on Track” in ‘22.

Photo by Kathryn Lapierre.


Mike Chapman lives in Manchester, MA, and holds Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth.  A gear-head for as long as he can remember, Mike spent his career in project and program management and has been a Formula Hybrid volunteer since the competition started in 2006.  He briefly enjoyed retirement for two days before taking over as Director of Formula Hybrid from the founder, Doug Fraser, to work with Jess Kinzie on the 2019 competition.

Jess Kinzie lives in Wilder, VT, and spent many years as a High School English teacher before bringing her educational background to Formula Hybrid in 2018. She earned her master’s degree in English Literature from Middlebury College and has found quite a niche in incorporating Shakespeare into the engineering challenges. Though Jess has helped coordinate three competitions, only one of those has been at the actual track, and she’s looking forward to returning to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  


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