German engineering with HAWKS Racing

In March 2023 mechanical engineering student, Danny Sarmiento, joined us as an exchange student from Long Beach. In his first semester he took classes in aeronautical engineering to immerse himself in German aerospace engineering and Hamburg’s special focus on aircraft cabins. Loving student life in Hamburg he stayed for a second semester, focusing on aerospace research and discovering a passion for automotive engineering with the HAWKS racing team.

Student in einem Rennwagen

Danny Sarmiento, Exchange Student CSULB & HAWKS Racing

‘Choosing to do a research project in Hamburg was a strategic decision to better equip myself for graduate school, as I plan to continue my education into a master or PHD programme in aeronautical engineering. During an aircraft design class in Hamburg, Professor Scholz presented a diverse range of research opportunities he offered, ranging from environmental labels in aviation to practical applications of aircraft preliminary sizing. As someone who often finds themselves gazing out the window during flights, pondering the complexities that ensure a plane takes off and lands seamlessly, I wanted to delve into understanding these complexities. By choosing to research “Plotting the Compressibility Correction Chart”, I knew my curiosity would get its answers as it would immerse myself in the world of flight mechanics and its certification requirements.

The day-to-day grind of the project was sometimes tedious but at the same time very rewarding. I had to study the intricacies of flight mechanics with which I was unfamiliar. I would take side-by-side notes to unravel the amount of literature review I needed to do to start understanding the required plot. I needed to look at multiple publications which in doing so gave me an understanding of how the macro software worked in excel which would be needed for plotting. Every Thursday involved meeting with Professor Scholz to receive feedback and recommendations on how I could further improve my performance. Creating the “Compressibility Correction Chart” taught me a vital lesson of the importance of looking beyond what is presented to you. One simple theory can unveil multiple explanations and concepts that in turn demand close consideration.

My main objective for coming to Germany was to immerse myself in German engineering principles and to see how they differ from the USA.

Last semester my focus was on my six engineering classes. But also on immersing myself in Hamburg’s vibrant atmosphere, attending festivals, exploring different corners of Europe with friends and enjoying the sunny weather. This semester my focus shifted towards a more professional orientation. I concentrated on my A1.2 German language course and dedicated a substantial part of my time to my research thesis. Without the daily class structure I was also more flexible and I used the additional free time for another passion. I joined the HAWKS racing team.

My main objective for coming to Germany was to immerse myself in German engineering principles and to see how they differ from the USA. I realized that a way to do this would be by actively participating in the hands-on work of one of Germany's best formula student racing teams. Captivated by their Instagram page, I was so impressed with the innovative design of their vehicle that I knew I wanted to learn about the manufacturing process. Seeing their continuous pursuit to enhance the durability, endurance, speed, and technology of the previous year's car left me genuinely impressed.

Of the various subdivision groups, I decided to become an intern for the chassis team and immerse myself in the process of designing and constructing the monocoque. In doing so, I have gained insights into the crucial component of the design process of building the test panels. Their choice of Kevlar honeycomb panels as the base reflected their commitment to a lighter overall vehicle weight. And simultaneously incorporating carbon fibre-reinforced plastics to ensure the required stiffness and strength to pass the 3-point bending test and crash tests. I am so thankful for having helpful teammates who were patient enough to teach me how to properly handle machinery such as the milling and Dremel machines, as well as pass on their knowledge on why they used different types of techniques and materials for the monocoque. I would say my time with HAWKS has escalated my assembly skills to new heights.

It has also been instrumental in identifying areas in my engineering skills that can be refined and improved. I have learned valuable insights into the intricate processes of designing and manufacturing the framework of a racing car. I believe this will also position me as a standout candidate when applying for engineering positions back home. By being in Hamburg my portfolio has evolved to reflect a diverse set of skills and experiences. I could not be more grateful for the wonderful journey I have had in Germany. Unfortunately I have to return to the US and will not be able to join HAWKS for the races in the summer. Nevertheless, my commitment to supporting the team will continue and I will cheer them on via social media, eagerly anticipating their well-deserved triumphs and hopefully a first-place finish.’

Link to article about Danny's first semester in Hamburg



Ingrid Weatherall
"HAW goes USA" strategy
International Office