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Change the world


This article, written by Fiona Richardson was published on the Altair Corporate Blog on August 24, 2017 and prominently features our University's engineering students.

Martin Badenhorst, a Masters student from the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, was not only excited to embark on his first trip overseas, he would also be doing his very first external presentation during the recent European Altair Technology Conference (E-ATC) in Germany. As part of a team of students at NMU, Martin was involved in the Eco-Car project which began in 2014.

“The NMU Eco-Car project is essentially a student run project where they get together to design and build a car. The project functions under the Advanced Mechatronics Training Centre (AMTC) at the university,” explains Clive Hands, senior lecturer at NMMU and part of the team.

The students delivered a car that participated in the 2016 Shell Eco-Marathon Africa which was hosted at Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria. The team managed to win the gasoline category with the Eco-Car running a distance of 127.86 km per litre of petrol used.

Martin was intimately involved with the project and the challenge around the Eco-Car’s wheels provided him with the ideal project for his dissertation. “We needed to make the wheel rims lighter than a standard bicycle wheel constructed using pre-tension steel spokes. I originally developed a geometry using sT Inspire and once I had the geometry, it was very important that I could manufacture it as a composite component. After achieving and refining the geometry, I used HyperMesh and OptiStruct to model the wheel rim as a composite and ended up achieving a mass reduction of 20%.”

The original weight of the wheel was 723 grams and Martin managed to get this weight down to around 500 grams. Being able to withstand the same amount of load is obviously equally important and this was achieved in the new design.

“We are working on applying the technology to different parts on the car to get it even lighter this year and ready for the Challenge in October 2017,” explained Martin.

Clive Hands has been a senior lecturer in Mechanical Engineering for 25 years and talking to him during the E-ATC event, you can see exactly why NMU is making great strides in the engineering faculty. Clive is passionate about his students and exposing them to new technologies.

The institution has access to the full HyperWorks® suite and Clive has his students working through the online solidThinking Inspire® training to learn the software so that valuable teaching time can be spent focusing on the more advanced aspects of the analysis and capabilities that exist in the software.

“We only have a certain amount of time to work with the students so it’s important to get the students working on the real-world examples and some of the obstacles they will encounter in their future and ensure they reach a more advanced level in the software,” said Clive.

Both Martin and Clive thoroughly enjoyed the three-day event in Frankenthal, Germany, and could’t wait to get back to their team to share their findings.

“This was my first trip outside of South Africa and it was a great experience meeting interesting people and being exposed to cutting-edge technology and the best part was seeing things in real-life instead of reading about it or watching You Tube videos,” enthused Martin.

“Finding out more about the other software tools in the suite as well as the Altair Partner Alliance has given us even more to think about. Our students love the software and have taken to it like ducks to water, so I’m excited to share our other findings with them in the coming months!” concludes Clive.

View the available presentations from the E-ATC 2017

Follow the NMU Eco-Team on Facebook


Contact information
Mr Clive Hands
Tel: 27 41 504 3375