Formula-E Race Goes Global After Scholarly Exchange

Beijing Team “Ghost” Top Winner in 7th Annual Design Competition

For the first year ever, the Formula-E Race has gone global. Known as the race where the rubber meets the road, Formula-E is the annual contest of rubber band-powered miniature cars designed by teams from Art Center and Pasadena Community College.  But 2012 will be remembered as the year the Department of Industrial Design at Beijing University of Technology joined the competition – and when the dust settled, the international visitors smoked the locals.

Devoted race fans endured sweltering heat at the August 9th event on Art Center’s Hillside campus to witness Beijing’s team “Ghost” take first place in two races plus Best in Show.  Art Center’s team “Ahn and Ahn” took first in The Sinclair Hill Climb track and the team from Pasadena Community College won The Eckles Design, Build, and Approach Award.

A highlight of Art Center’s Graduate Industrial Design (GradID) program, the race is judged by a panel of distinguished industry leaders. This year, the panel included designers from Honda R&D, Disney, BMW Group Designworks USA, LEGO Concept Lab, Tesla Motors, Fisker Automotive, Mattel Hot Wheels, Calty, and Nissan. Judging was based on a variety of criteria including quality, craftsmanship, materials, style, engineering, branding, innovation, and, of course, performance.

Sweating it out as MC for the event was the humorous Matt Gallant, host of ABC’s American Inventory and Animal Planet’s The Planet’s Funniest Animals.

The purpose of the class project is to teach lessons in strategy, product development, science, engineering, design, fabrication, branding, communications, and event planning through a fun and real world product-development experience. In the process, students learn about competition, teamwork, setting goals, and creating design plans that are then executed to varying degrees of success.

International Exchange of Racing and Design Knowledge

The addition of the teams from Beijing University of Technology is the result of a visit to Beijing by Andy Ogden, chair, Grad ID at Art Center along with other faculty to discuss a collaborative initiative between the colleges. During discussions about design education methodology, the group focused on the value of the Formula-E curriculum. Following that meeting, Beijing faculty members developed a class featuring the same rules and dimensions used by the Art Center students, and are now coming to Pasadena to compete against the “home” teams.

Race Results

Best in Show
“Ghost” (Beijing)

The Sinclair Hill Climb
1st place winner:  “Ahn and Ahn” (Art Center) - 11.93 seconds
2nd place: “Rad Squadra” (Art Center) – 13.86 seconds
3rd place: “Ghost” (Beijing) – 15.06 seconds

Ashtray Drag Race
1st place winner: “Ghost” (Beijing) – 4.62 seconds
2nd place tie: “Phantom” and “Saluki” (both teams from Art Center) – 4.95 seconds

Sculpture Garden Flats (Figure 8 )
1st place winner: “Ghost” (Beijing) – 32.23 seconds
2nd place: “Phantom” (Art Center) – 36.20 seconds
3rd place:  “Ahn and Ahn” (Art Center) – 37.17 seconds

The Eckles Design, Build, and Approach Award
1st place winner:  Pasadena City College
2nd place:  “Aluminum” (Beijing)
3rd place:  “Saluki” (Art Center)

Connecting with the Community through Service

As part of the curriculum, student teams were partnered with a local non-profit organization. The students worked hand-in-hand with each of the organization’s management teams on a strategic issue, ranging from producing a fundraising event to implementing a new business idea or client program. By working with these organizations at a strategic business level, the students gained entrepreneurial networking skills in preparation for leadership roles throughout creative organizations, and often fueled their entrepreneurial ambitions. Organizations included Kidspace Children’s Museum, Pasadena Humane Society, Side Street Projects, The Rowe & Gayle Giesen Trust, Armory Center for the Arts, and Flintridge Center.

On race day, representatives from the non-profits attended, ranging from children who are served by the local charities, to the organization’s management team and board of directors.

About Graduate Industrial Design

GradID ( at Art Center focuses on theory and practice for the production of insightful research and the development of human-centered and business model-based designs. Combining Art Center’s renowned excellence in visual design and skilled craftsmanship with the knowledge, theories and methods essential for making design solutions for complex and unstructured problems, the program seeks to prepare students for leadership roles throughout creative organizations. Art Center’s GradID program is consistently ranked nationally as the number one graduate industrial design program both in U.S. News & World Report and in DesignIntelligence. In five of the last six years, it has been ranked number one in DesignIntelligence’s “America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools” issue.

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