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RF-19 Car sits in TMFR's Booth
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TMFR showcases RF-19 car at their first-ever auto show 

By Konnor Killoran

The Toronto Metropolitan Formula Racing team (TMFR) showcased its RF-19 project car at the 50th Annual Toronto AutoShow last month, alongside new electric technology  from big brands such as Hyundai and Subaru.

The auto show, which ran from Feb. 17 to Feb. 26, showcased the industry’s latest innovations, newest concept cars and interactive demos.

The group is composed of students from all programs and allows for them to get hands-on, industry experience by building a car, managing a team and racing in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) international competition, that features teams from around the world. 

Isabelle Bonello, the business lead at TMFR, said the team was super excited about the opportunity to be at the event. “This is our first year doing the Autoshow,” said Bonello. She added that the event gave everybody an idea of how hard the team works. “Being able to show it to a ton of people that come to the Autoshow over the next ten days. It’s just a surreal experience.”

The group showcased their RF-19 project car, which was a team favourite due to its aero package —the design elements of the car which reduce drag and allow it to go faster. This is the first time in two years that the auto show was back in-person after it was cancelled in 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic. But Bonello said that working online during the pandemic was a silver lining for TMFR, who used the time to work on the business and recruitment side of the team. 

“The online environment of COVID-19 helped us quite a bit in terms of marketing and exposure to the team,” she said. 

For TMFR and Bonello, the auto show was an amazing opportunity for the team members to apply concepts and theory to real life.

“What I’ve learned over the past two and a half years, I can apply in real life and I do apply [my experience] to the internships that I have,” she said. “It’s stuff that you learn in class but then you have this real-life system that you can apply it to.”

Mobility Reimagined was the overarching theme at the AutoShow and it was showcased in droves, as every manufacturer and company wanted to talk about their latest electric vehicle (EV) innovations. And TMFR was no different.

The team believed that learning how to produce an EV would be excellent industry experience, keeping them ahead of the curve, which is why they made the switch to an EV platform in 2020. “The industry is moving in that direction. So we should move in that direction as well,’” said Bonello.

The group competed in the FSAE EV Competition last June with its latest iteration of the EV, placing first in Ontario and fifth in Canada. “We were extremely proud of that,” said Bonello. 

She added that it’s “been an interesting change” as the team has previously focused on combustion engines rather than EV.  

A combustion engine is a type of engine where combustion, also known as the burning of fuel, occurs on the inside, according to Kiddle, an online encyclopedia.

“It’s been an interesting change for sure because the team has been [focused on] combustion for at least 23 years prior to that.” 

Ghafoor Khodayari, a senior manufacturing engineer and program manager at UltraFit Manufacturing—a company which specializes in automotive parts—said he sees the shift to EV’s enabling innovation within the design of cars, especially because space gets freed up from simpler components. “Electric cars will keep designing [more efficient] vehicles,” he said.

Bonello said TMFR has been an excellent runway for members to land in the industry, especially with the networking they do with their sponsors. “There are some people that work at Tesla, there’s some that work at Magna, Honda, other car companies,” said Bonello.

Khodayari echoed that the program is a great opportunity for students. “Whatever you learn there, you can directly apply in the real industry,” said Khodayari. “Because you are free at that time, you can think about whatever is impossible. Because every impossible thing may one day be possible.” 

Statistics show that the industry also appreciates hands-on experience. According to a survey done by Oakland Community College and the Farmington, MI. Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis, 43 per cent of engineering firms said they would be interested in having a student work as an intern. 

“Everybody starts off the same, no one has any idea what they’re doing,” Bonello said. “This is a learning team. We’re here to support each other.”

Disclaimer: Ghafoor Khodayari is the father of communities editor Negin Khodayari. However, Negin was not involved in the editing or production of this piece.

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