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Formula SAE Team Drives to Success at National Motorsports Competition

June 9, 2015

SAE Car Team

Hard-Working Team: Members of the 2014-15 Grand Prix Engineering Team worked together to design, build, and race a Formula-type racer for this year’s Society of Automotive Engineers’ competition at Michigan International Speedway.

Racing on a superspeedway at an average speed of about 35 mph may not sound so fast, until you do it strapped inside a miniature race car seated only an inch above the pavement.

From that vantage point, the experience feels more like 100 mph to drivers for Rose-Hulman’s sprint car-type racer during this year’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers competition, conducted this spring at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.

The team finished ninth in the figure-eight based skid pad event, and was 24th in the cost analysis portion of the business presentation category. However, a sensor failure hampered the team’s overall performance, placing Rose-Hulman 55th among 110 teams from throughout the world.

“We are putting ourselves on the board” in this major competition, says Craig Altman, a 2015 mechanical engineering graduate and the team’s president for the 2014-15 racing season. All team members believe that this year’s entry “was the best car we’ve ever built.”

Rose-Hulman’s four-year-old Grand Prix Engineering Team is a relative newcomer to the Formula SAE competition, which requires students to build a new car from scratch during each competition season. The team’s best finish was 33rd in 2014.

SAE Car Article

Off To The Races: Students made strong business and technical cases about their motorsports skills while competing in this year’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers competition at Michigan International Speedway.

This year’s vehicle weighed 439 pounds, 12 percent less than last year’s car, and had a top speed of about 60 mph.

“We [put our car] on an extreme diet and cut as much weight as we could,” Altman says.

Each team member commits about 40 hours per week throughout each school year working on aspects of the project in the Branam Innovation Center—from original design to fabrication to testing. Finally, the vehicle’s performance was put to the test in several driving events in Michigan.

“It’s a serious commitment, but it’s a lot of fun,” says senior mechanical engineering student Dan Egan, the team’s 2015-16 president.

Many Rose-Hulman Grand Prix Engineering Team members say they want to pursue motorsports careers. Most current team members had little or no competitive driving experience before joining the team.

Most teams at the Formula SAE Michigan competition were from the United States, but there were also competitors from colleges in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, and Venezuela.