For perspective, tires can cost more than $400 each. Racing engine control units can cost well more than $1,000. And the costs go on and on.
“I think the main idea is we know what we want to do, but as soon as we get the money we spend it,” said chief engineer Wes Kudela.
To help solve that problem, the members of ASU's Formula SAE team — made up of students in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering — have learned what the business world knows so well: When there’s a problem you can’t handle, call in consultants.
The team has recruited five students from the W. P. Carey School of Business majoring in subjects like business management. The business majors meet weekly with the engineers.
“It’s awesome to have them in here,” Buhr said. “They think completely differently than us. It’s young right now, but I like the way it’s going.”
“A lot of them love cars.”
Building the SDM-15 is a quest for a simplistic car that is durable and handles well. They want it to be lightweight but stiff in the chassis, braking system and suspension.
“The build is going great,” Kudela said.
And managing the project is going smoothly. The goal to have all 110 team members involved as much as possible is progressing well.
“We’re seeing 50 to 60 guys come in and get their hands dirty every weekend,” Kudela said.
“We’ve never had this much momentum, and it’s good to see people excited,” said team captain Pranav Mamidi. However, he said, “we’ve always lagged in the business department.”
Raytheon donated $2,000 to the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, but it had to be split with the SAE Aero Design team. Tempe-based Trimble Consulting Inc., a technical, business and educational services consulting company, donated $750. Ford Motor Company gave $2,500. “We showed them the chassis and the shop, and they were impressed,” Mamidi said.
Team members are talking with possible sponsors including Chrysler, Avnet and Boeing. “We’ve also been compiling a list of potential local sponsors,” said Mamidi, referring to businesses such as car dealerships.
One of the engineering challenges is balancing structural integrity with weight.
“We know we’re going to be testing really hard,” Kudela said.
The base rails on the chassis are perfectly straight, which is important because everything else goes on top of them. The team doesn’t have a fixture table, which is perfectly flat and used in welding and assembly. “We have to spend a lot of time getting the chassis straight on it,” Kudela said.
The chromoly tubes have been tacked together, but not yet fully welded. The car will flex when it’s eventually built and unclamped from the table. Because heat from welding can deform metal, it could create a crooked car, so the chassis will be fully welded later.