IT Infrastructure: The Workhorses of the Waterloo Team

When students first step into the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) office, they are often surprised by the number of computers and laptops. Typically the team has five desktops, eight monitors, and three laptops churning on anything from finite element analysis (FEA), to powertrain models.

In the summer of 2011 UWAFT realized that it needed to update its computing power for EcoCAR 2. Competition level sponsors such as dSPACE, Siemens Unigraphics, MathWorks, AVL, Vector and CD-Adapco provided each team with cutting edge software.  Three more desktops were added to the UWAFT’s lineup: a new Computer-Aided Design (CAD) workstation, an HIL/modeling computer and a Linux server.

The CAD workstation uses a solid state hard drive to allow for faster loading of CAD model files. A very powerful graphics card and 32 GB of RAM were also added. The benefit of this powerful machine is the ability to manage large CAD files quickly. The machine is also used for FEA analysis using Unigraphics NX-NASTRAN and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) using CD-Adapco’s Star-CCM+.

The HIL/modeling computer built by the team is not as powerful as the CAD machine. It is normally used to compile models for dSPACE’s Mid-Sized Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) Simulator. The modeling computer has a very large hard drive (over 2 terabytes) to save all of the results of the HIL simulations. In Years Two and Three, this machine will also be used to review and compare drive cycle data using Mathwork’s MATLAB and AVL Drive.

The final machine UWAFT built is a Linux Server. Running Ubuntu, the machine operates as the central file storage machine for the office, using an FTP server. This computer also hosts several of the team’s license servers for various software packages. Laptops are used throughout the office and garage with 90% of them being Lenovo ThinkPads (the team swears by them!). The laptops are used extensively during years two and three for referencing documentation and building vehicle code. Some people call us computer nerds… but we just call it another day in the office.