Butter, Chicken Wing and Pancake are Felix' hobbies. But if you are thinking of culinary arts, you are wrong. The terms come from volleyball and stand for a game that goes like clockwork (butter), defensive techniques with an angled arm (chicken wing) and an impressive slide digger (pancake) - i.e. a leap towards the ground to stop the ball from hitting the ground at the last moment. Felix has been coaching a mixed volleyball team in Esslingen, Swabia, for many years. "The squad includes around 30 people between the ages of 20 and 60," explains Felix, Project Lead at EDAG.
"Simulator," as he calls himself. "I'm responsible for ensuring that cars drive safely and perform well on the road. And that the comfort is optimal, no matter what the surface."
Chassis are his thing. To be more specific, the graduate vehicle engineer has been on board at EDAG for three years in the Vehicle Dynamics Simulation department. This means working out the driving dynamics of vehicles, running through the application scenarios on the computer, changing components and parameters again and again until it fits and the customer's requirements are met. "It's a terrific feeling when the first idea on a blank sheet of paper becomes a finished car." According to the 30-year-old, this is exactly what characterizes his job at EDAG.
Cars and technology have always appealed to Felix, whether touring cars, go-karting or later Formula 1. At 14, he got his hands dirty in his first jobs in car workshops during the school vacations. Changing oil, checking tires and brakes, replacing lamps - the full range of things a schoolboy is allowed to do. "But I quickly realized that wasn't enough for me," recalls the Augsburg native. "I wanted to know exactly what was behind it." Why is a chassis, a shock absorber constructed in this way, how do the parts and components interlock and how does the interaction of the individual elements become a harmonious whole? In short: "I wanted to know how to get the horsepower onto the road."
No sooner said than done. After graduating from high school, he began studying automotive engineering in Ilmenau and completed his bachelor's degree at Esslingen University of Applied Sciences. Theoretical fundamentals are elementary for Felix. "I love developing complex models on the computer and finding solutions for the trickiest requirements." But without practice, this remains a paper tiger for him. That's why during an internship during his studies he got a taste of the air at a renowned racing team. From the Opel Adam in the rally version to the Formula 1 racing car - he got to know vehicle technology at a high-tech level first hand.
Whether SUV, roadster, family car or sedan - Felix is now the expert when it comes to developing a chassis. He is currently working on the chassis for an electric car that a start-up will be launching on the market. The basis, as is usual for projects, is a specification sheet that includes all requirements and features for the future vehicle: Comfort, safety, maintainability, sustainability and much more. For the so-called multi-body simulation, he builds models on the computer, a digital twin of the future reality. His most important tools for this are Adams Car, which he uses to build and test functional virtual prototypes of complete vehicles and subsystems. He solves mathematical problems with the tool Matlab.
For him, building the models on the computer is the be-all and end-all. How should the chassis behave kinematically, how do different bearing materials and preloads of the suspension affect the driving dynamics? "In my model, I put together all the components that are important for driving dynamics, test them and build the chassis in an agile, iterative way," says Felix. The front axle, rear axle, steering, brakes, and load are all individual components that he combines in the software and designs into the overall vehicle, in other words, from the rough to the fine. The materials and forces, which he allows to act on his model, are at first rigid and then increasingly more flexible.
"Of course, I don't develop the car in my ivory tower," Felix explains. He works very closely with his colleagues who are responsible for the vertical dynamics. And he is also in lively exchange with the test teams. "With my colleagues on the team, the quality of my work becomes apparent." The tough practical test then answers the question of whether his models and simulations actually represent reality. His claim: "Ideally, I save my colleagues an enormous amount of effort in development and thus accelerate the overall development."
The chassis freak, volleyball coach and team player has a whole other side. "For several years now, I have been supervising students at EDAG in their final projects. I like to pass on my know-how and soak up the results of the work. They go into great detail, which is not possible in normal business, and I can often use this knowledge for my own work - a win-win situation." As part of a current bachelor's thesis, lap times for a DTM vehicle of a well-known motorsports team are simulated on the basis of vehicle and track data. How do changes in weight, chassis settings affect the lap times and temperature of the brakes? The results are made available to the racing team, which then tapes off the cooling ducts of the brakes, for example, so that they are always kept at the optimum temperature range between 400 and 600 degrees.
When Felix is not simulating chassis for cars, he is testing that of his sports equipment. When snowboarding or mountain biking, he pushes his personal physical limits and those of his fully. "Just the other day I rode the World Cup downhill course in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Fierce." His biggest challenge last year was a 2-day bike enduro competition in Brandnertal, Austria. "Okay, I don't need that anymore," he grins. At EDAG, he has some plans for the future, as he puts on record: "I would like to explore how our experts can approach customers more actively in the future and acquire projects." Other goals include being present at trade fairs and preparing training materials to facilitate the onboarding of new colleagues. And maybe handing out a round of chicken wings and pancakes, and a cold drink - instead of butter.