Building an electric motorcycle to race
Nadia Domanski tells us how her experience of project managing the build of an electric superbike improved her confidence and helped her secure a graduate job.
At Bath we are taught to be extremely technically talented, but getting involved in projects like Bath Zero really reinforces what we learn on paper.
Bath Zero are on a mission to design, test and build an electric superbike to compete at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy and MotoE race series this June. The team is made up of mechanical and electrical engineering undergraduate students interested in advancing the design and performance of electric vehicles. This year's bike, named Apollo, contains nearly 100kg of lithium ion and can reach speeds of up to 140mph. It must be reliable, capable of endurance racing and comfortable for the rider.
Bath Zero's Project Manager, Nadia is looking forward to the challenge: "The Isle of Man TT is one of the most prestigious road races in the world, and being able to compete against factory teams like Mugen and Victory is huge! These teams are building million pound vehicles in a professional environment, yet we get to line up with them at the start line. When will I ever get the opportunity to do this again?"
The team started life in 2015 as Bath Zero Emissions Motorcycles (B0EM) with their bike Odin. This year, they've rebranded and are working on their new bike Apollo, which features a brand new Ducati frame. Nadia joined the design team in her third year: "At first, I was helping to lay carbon fibre for the battery boxes and machining small parts, which was a great learning opportunity. My job now as Project Manager is pure organisation. I try to make sure everything gets done and nothing gets forgotten about.
"The role goes further than engineering: building the website, arranging visits with sponsors or manufacturers, managing finances. The list goes on. Everyone on the team is really talented; I try to focus on playing to people's strengths and giving people responsibility over certain aspects of the build."
Boosting confidence and career prospects
The team spent their first semester designing and their second semester building the bike for competition over the summer. The project counts towards the students' final degree and is an opportunity to develop specialist technical knowledge, as well as skills such as teamwork and communication.
"In terms of engineering skills, I've learnt everything from how to layup carbon fibre to how to select the right sprocket. As we are only in our second year of competing, the project is still establishing itself and we are constantly developing how and what we work on each year. We have a lot of room to choose how our project works.
"I tended to be a quiet student and didn’t get involved in too many things in the Department, but that has changed completely now. I can now give presentations to sponsors or important visitors without blinking. I have got over my nerves, which for me has been a real confidence boost!"
"It was remarkable how much interest employers had in my involvement with Bath Zero. During interviews I was able to give real experiences of things I had done rather than relying on my grades! I was lucky enough to get a very prestigious graduate job, which I fully credit to my involvement in Bath Zero. I wish I had joined a race team when I had first started at university rather than leaving it until my final two years. I didn’t understand how valuable it could be, especially for job hunting!"