Page manager Published: Tue 15 Aug 2017.

Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.

I have always been a believer of learning by doing. I have found it to be the best way to learn anything. I consider myself fortunate to belong to a university which provides ample opportunities to do just this. Given, the main reason to attend university is for an academic qualification, but it is equally important to develop one’s social skills and overall personality while here.

On October 2016, I became part of the Chalmers EcoSmarter team. It was a team of 17 talented Chalmerists. We were all set to represent the school at the Shell EcoMarathon event in London, the coming year. Strangely we were an all Indian group representing Sweden; which had its own charm. 

Building cars has forever fascinated me. During my undergraduate studies, I was part of the technical team which built a hybrid car for the Formula Hybrid SAE competition and this time around I chose to oversee the team management and communications. Armed with a spirited team, immense support from our alumni and the best faculty advisor (EVER) we began our journey towards building a series- hybrid race car. 
The next eight months were filled with making, breaking and remaking the new car. A lot of frustrations, fights and fun made the team stronger. In retrospect, I believe every team member did and learnt more than what they signed up for. The technicalities of building a car is similar no matter which country it is built in, but the experience was quite different from how it was back in India. The facilities, work procedures and standards were subtle challenges all of us had to overcome.

With a brand new tested car, the team drove from Sweden to France. Yes, two cars and a carrier truck were loaded with the ES17 car, equipment and us, and we were on the road for nearly 30 hours. Since I wasn’t one of the drivers, BEST ROADTRIP EVER! We drove through Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and reached France. Although it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, a recommendation to future teams would be to simply take a flight.

At France, we were greeted by many other talented teams with cars just like ours. The team celebrated after passing the technical inspection. It was then time for the moment of truth, the endurance test. 10 laps with the given amount of fuel in the specified time. It was the most nervous we’ve all been and some of us could not bring ourselves to watch the race. After 8 and a half laps, the car stopped and would not turn back on. It was towed back to the pit. The team was gutted. Almost one year of arduous work and one and half laps short of putting up a result.

What happened next is one of my favourite things about Chalmers and the people here. At Chalmers, we are constantly encouraged to try and never to be afraid of failures. Failures are considered as the best lessons for success. Sven Andersson, our wonderful faculty advisor often quoted Mark Twain, “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection”. He reminded us this once again when we gathered together after the race. We had made great progress and we knew exactly where we fell short. We had a clear list of strengths and improvements for subsequent teams and they now had a well-grounded start point. Knowing this, a sense of accomplishment and urge spread across us all. 

​University is a halfway house between home and finding a job. We have the responsibilities for a young adult and still the freedom to make mistakes and fail. Student projects such as these are wonderful platforms for one to learn real life skills in a secure environment and I will be grateful to Chalmers for allowing me to be part of this and many such teams.

Written by: Keerthana Jayaprakash 

Page manager Published: Tue 15 Aug 2017.