Engineering Club’s race car runs on dreams
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 10:00 AM
Last May, Colorado Mesa University’s Engineering Club took part of a race car of their design to the Michigan International Speedway. They’ll return to the speedway next May, and this time, they’re going to drive.
Each year, 120 collegiate teams compete in Formula SAE, an automotive design competition hosted by SAE International, the professional society for automotive, aerospace and commercial vehicle engineers.
According to the event’s website, teams “conceive, design, fabricate and compete with a small, formula-style competition vehicle. To give teams the maximum design flexibility and the freedom to express their creativity and imaginations, there are very few restrictions on the overall vehicle design.”
Over the course of the three-day competition, vehicles are subjected to static testing — which examines the technical application, presentation, cost and engineering design. They’ll also undergo dynamic testing with a solo performance trial and high performance track endurance.
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and club advisor Scott Kessler, PhD, said that most of the club’s time is spent working on the car that they plan to compete with in Formula SAE.
Last year, the club brought a “rolling chassis” to Michigan. From the outside it looked like a proper racing vehicle, but it lacked the components that made it drivable.
“There was very little that we outsourced,” said Morgan Ryan, a sophomore mechanical engineering student and vice-president of the Engineering Club. Ryan emphasized that almost all the components for the vehicle were machined and assembled by club members. “It was a decent presentation for what we’d done so far.”
The fact that the car couldn’t go didn’t exclude it from the static tests, where it performed better than several fully functioning vehicles. Ryan said only about a quarter of all the competing teams complete the dynamic testing, which includes a 22 km. race.
This year the students are gunning for the Most Improved Team award, but even if they don’t win, they’re already reaping the benefits of being involved in Formula SAE. “When you apply for a job in the automotive industry, they ask how long you’ve been involved with SAE,” Ryan said, noting that companies within the industry pays close attention to the formula competition.
Kessler hopes that CMU will continue participating in the competition as graduates leave the club and new students arrive. He’ll have no problem getting their attention. “Certainly when we bring recruits to the building, it piques their interest when we show them the race car,” he said.
By Evan Linko
Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations