Student club achievements | Volante

Hey, It’s a new day and we're here with a new club, let’s get to know more about them.

This team goes by the name VOLANTE and was created by a group of students from MSRIT in 2016. Since then the club has participated in many competitions and have bagged ranks that prove the quality of their work and heart they put into their projects. Currently, there are 25 members who work for the success of the club.

The main event for the members at Volante is the e-BAJA SAEINDIA intercollegiate design competition. This event was a new initiative introduced in 2014 on the counsel of former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, the motive of this event is to promote eco-friendly automobiles. By automobiles, I mean, tough and rugged all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s) that run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The event consists of a series of categories that put these ATV's to the test and the performance of these ATV's are assessed and graded. The whole premise of this event is to create a sustainable automobile industry while keeping all that adrenaline pumping elements intact and Volante is doing a great job at it.

Along with the cool name they have a list of achievements to back their club, 12th rank overall in e-BAJA SAEINDIA virtual 2019, 19th rank overall in e-BAJA SAEINDIA main event 2019 and they also won best acceleration award in the event champion of champions organized by ISIE India 2020. We'll be talking more about their achievements in the interview below.

The members of the club are very ambitious and they back it by their statistics, they aim to venture into the off-road vehicle industry with their project and subsequently shine a light on the potential of electric off-terrain vehicles.

Volante as a club show a lot of grit and determination towards their craft which clearly reflects, it's going to be interesting to see what this club can do in future events.

| INTERVIEW with Preetham and DEVI |

How was the club started and by whom? What was the initial aim of the club?

[Preetham] Basically the club was started by 3 automobile enthusiasts, 2 from the first year and one from the third year. They had a long-term goal to participate in BAJA but they didn’t want to directly enter BAJA with no experience and so they planned to compete in go-kart events first. They entered the National Karting Championship, so our seniors started working for it with a group of 25 members.

[Devi] So, the plan they had was, by the time they reach their 4th year they wanted to do a national level competition and since they didn’t want to directly head into that, they took a slower approach by learning the small things as they generate momentum as well as some income. The initial process itself took some time; it took us close to 3 years to compete in BAJA.

At first, they didn’t plan to do electric, they just wanted to do BAJA but after the first competition they ended up going in a different route, they went on to do a solar vehicle and actually that’s where they picked up the electric idea so that’s kind of how we moved into the EV competition.

[Preetham] Actually it was a gradual process, they started with solar and IC but as you know that IC is not going to be prominent in the future as everyone is moving towards electric. So, then the captain and vice-captain focused on EV's, but the long-term plan was always BAJA. E-BAJA started in the year 2016 and since it was new, we opted to go ahead with that.

How did the college react to the plan and what did your college mates think about it?

[Preetham] So as we all know at the starting the college will always oppose but since this time it was an SAE event, they supported us, not financially only with motivation. The faculty advisors did all the procedures so that we will be able to take part in the competition and the college gave us a lot of technical support which was really helpful

[Devi] So the monetary support was - let’s say zero itself for our initial projects, then after seeing how we were doing in the competition and observing our success rate and other aspects, little monetary support started picking up, again not much but it was helpful.

As for the reaction, it was normal because usually for any new idea there is initial resistance. Usually what happens is when a new club is started by the students, they push on for around 6 months and during the course of that time they participate in 1 or 2 competitions; once the team members reach their final year the club disintegrates. So, this initial resistance was there from the beginning but since we were consistent with our performance and club work, we started receiving attention from the college. In conclusion, I can say that we are receiving support from our college but it can be better.

What were the challenges the club had to overcome?

[Preetham] The main challenge that we faced was regarding money only, getting funds and finding sponsors for our projects is damn tough. The captain actually helped us a lot with funds, I would like to thank him for that, together the club members pooled in money and brought up a few contacts. Some contacts were given to us by the college and that was very helpful, also we received sponsors through the help of our college and for that we would like to thank them.

[Devi] I definitely agree that money is one of the challenges that we faced a lot, the other thing is that every year we start from scratch since we are always venturing into new competitions and each time we start a project it is upon us to learn these new things, so however good the resources are - like the YouTube videos and the journals, when it comes to practical application it’s a little tough to figure out everything and especially in our 3rd or 4th year of college, that is one of the challenges that we face.

The idea on which your club is currently working on is quite a hot topic in the automobile industry, what are your views on electric cars and the probability of it taking over the conventional engines?

[Devi] The thing is that we are very sure electric is definitely going to be the future and whatever technology that we have seen in the past 10 to 15 years is just the tip of the iceberg and there is a lot more to be explored and probably in the next 10 years, we will be seeing the real change. One sure thing is that until now electric cars were known to be boring and slow like there were many complaints that it used to run out of battery and it has very low range but now I think all these stereotypes have been broken with companies like Tesla coming out with their EV’s. These latest technologies have been made accessible to the common man, for example, a person with some basic mechanical knowledge and equipped with the right tools can convert his petrol or diesel car into an electric vehicle.