image title

Revved up: ASU race car crew ready to impress at international competition

June 16, 2017

A confident Arizona State University team is gearing up for what is widely considered the toughest international student automotive design and performance competition.

About 30 members of ASU’s chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers are planning to make the trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, for the 2017 Formula SAE event June 21-24.

Those students are about half the number of the chapter’s members who have been working for much of the past year on the race car that will be put to the test against about 80 other teams from colleges and universities throughout the United States and several other countries.

“We have been designing, engineering and building almost nonstop since last June,” said Troy Buhr, the Formula SAE team captain who graduated this spring with a mechanical engineering degree from ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“We’ve had workshop days just about every Saturday, and in the past two months we have been in the shop almost every day,” he said.

Refined design and cool features

What the sustained effort has wrought is stoking Buhr’s optimism about the team’s prospects for success at the Formula SAE competition.

He notes that this is the third straight year the SAE chapter has produced a brand-new race car from start to finish — the first time that has been done by the student organization.

The trend had been for the ASU teams to build a new car about every five years. So designing and assembling new cars in three consecutive years “is a huge accomplishment because it shows we are building a strong foundation of teamwork and using the new knowledge we’ve gained year to year,” Buhr said.

Equally as significant, the 2017 car is the first in the chapter’s more than 25-year history to have a full package of aerodynamic features, highlighted by front and rear wings on the vehicle.

“This shows our design skills are maturing,” Buhr said. “Full aerodynamics packages create more downforce, which enables cars to go through corners faster. Plus, it makes the car more closely resemble a Formula One race car.”

Such a resemblance, he adds, gives the car a “cooler” look that’s “more professional and less like a go-kart."

The new race car also sports 10-inch wheels instead of the 13-inch wheels used in years past. The new wheels, along with a decrease in the size and weight of other components, should enable the vehicle to perform more efficiently.

Teams challenged to demonstrate multiple skills

At the competition, cars are evaluated through highly detailed technical inspections and cost analysis. Teams must submit an in-depth evaluation of the fundamental engineering principles that guided the design and building of the car.

There’s also a sales presentation that requires teams to make the business case for how mass production of their vehicle could be a profitable venture.

On the track, cars are judged on their proficiency in acceleration, braking, general driving stability, overall efficiency and endurance. They must be driven on an autocross run, a timed competition requiring drivers to navigate a track designed to test the vehicle’s responsiveness and road-handling capabilities.

“The idea is to test every aspect of a team’s engineering and teamwork skills,” Buhr said.

Just getting into the competition requires a test of the team’s fundraising skills. The cost of producing the race car amounted to about $30,000, and then there was the $2,250 registration fee to enter the Formula SAE event.

To cover costs, the team launched a crowdfunding campaign and secured industry sponsorship and other support from dozens of companies, including Ford, AEI Fabrication, Industrial Metal Supply, Solidworks and PPE Engineering.

“All of these challenges are what makes this a great club,” Buhr said. “The competition forces us to apply the engineering knowledge that we are learning in class to actually creating a high-performance vehicle.”

The project management, collaborative labor, financing and other aspects of the endeavor “are training our members for work in industry,” said Buhr, who will soon begin a job with Ford Motor Company in Michigan.

Preparing to make a big splash

“What’s really cool is that we’re not just an engineering team,” said the team’s industry partnership manager, Robert Tichy. “We want to be an engineering organization that pulls in students with diverse talents from several schools.”

Tichy notes that the team’s crowdfunding effort was aided this year by members who are pursuing degrees in business and communications fields. They helped with advertising for the fundraising campaign.

The team is looking to add journalism and art students in the near future to benefit from their particular skills, he said.

 “Above all else, our primary goal is to develop the technical, professional and communication skills of our members,” Buhr said.

Right up at No. 2 on the SAE chapter’s list of goals this year is boosting the team’s reputation among its peers by placing within the top 25 among the formidable contenders it will face at the upcoming Formula SAE competition.

“Our aerodynamics package really sets a new standard for our team,” Tichy said. “No one can count ASU out, and I think we’re going to make a big splash in Lincoln. I’m looking forward to seeing heads turn as we perform.”

Top photo: Members of the ASU chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers and their supporters gathered recently for the unveiling of a new race car equipped with aerodynamic features designed to boost the vehicle’s performance. Photo by Pete Zrioka/ASU 

Joe Kullman

Science writer , Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

480-965-8122

 
image title

One of largest Western film history collections goes on display

ASU-owned Western film collection to debut at Scottsdale's Museum of the West.
The Wild Wild West, as portrayed in film, will be on display in Scottsdale.
June 19, 2017

Acquired by ASU Foundation and Scottsdale's Museum of the West, Rennard Strickland Collection provides unique perspective

One of the largest collections of Western film memorabilia has found a home, appropriately, in the Southwest.

The Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film History debuts tomorrow at Scottsdale's Museum of the West. The collection was acquired jointly last October by the museum and Arizona State University's Foundation for A New American University. More than 100 posters and lobby cards will be on display, out of the more than 5,000 in the collection, dating from the 1890s to the mid-1980s. The exhibit runs through Sept. 30, 2018.

“The collection, which numbers more than 5,000 works, represents Dr. Strickland’s passion for Western film and the extraordinary graphic abilities of artists from past to present,” chief curator Tricia Loscher said. "It's unique in that many stories about the posters and films are told from Dr. Strickland's perspective." 

Strickland, a professor at University of Oklahoma's College of Law, began to collect the memorabilia in the 1970s. He then passed the collection along to the Museum of the West and ASU to serve as a resource for the university's faculty and students. Strickland himself is of Osage and Cherokee heritage and an expert on Indian law.

Because many of the films were shot in the area, the move made plenty of sense. 

Test your Western film trivia below.

"We have brought his collection home," Loscher said. "This is one of the major centers of the Western region where film has been produced, and it is an honor and privilege for us that Dr. Strickland selected this partnership to see that his collection is shared by present and future generations from around the world."

To celebrate the acquisition, an event will be held for museum members from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26. Attendees will have the opportunity to view the exhibition and meet Strickland, Loscher, ASU President Michael Crow, museum director Mike Fox and others. 

Museum hours are 9:30 to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday. Closed Monday. (Thursday hours are extended to 9 p.m. Nov. through April.)

Admisison prices for the museum are: $13, adults; $11, seniors (65+) and active military; $8, students (full-time with ID) and children (6–17 years); free for members and children 5 and under.

For more information visit scottsdalemuseumwest.org.

Top photo: The Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film History is on display at Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West from June 20, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

 

 

Did you know? 

Only two Western films have ever received a “Best Picture” Academy Award (Oscar).

“Cimarron,” released in 1931; received the “Best Picture” Oscar in the same year.
An adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel, it tells the story of a young woman who marries a drifter-gunfighter during the Oklahoma land rush, who go their separate ways. It starred Richard Dix and Irene Dunne.

“Dances with Wolves,” released in 1990, the film received the “Best Picture” Oscar in 1991.
A historical drama set during the U.S. Civil War, it tells the story of Union Army Officer Lieutenant John J. Dunbar and his relationship with a band of Sioux Indians. The film stars Kevin Costner.

 

Although hundreds of thousands of movie posters rolled off the presses, relatively few have survived.

Posters were shipped from theater to theater, and became worn, ragged and outdated. Paper drives during World War II emptied film-studio storage warehouses, making silent film posters particularly rare.

 

An 1889 Budweiser saloon poster of a painting entitled “Custer’s Last Fight” was the basis for movie poster art.

 

“Stagecoach” is considered one of the most important Western films ever made and one of Director John Ford’s greatest achievements.

It demonstrated to the Hollywood studios that there was a viable audience for Westerns films. It also rescued John Wayne from his B-picture status, propelling him to fame.

The historic drama, based on a short story by Ernest Haycox, is about a group of passengers traveling by stagecoach to the town of Lordsburg in the New Mexico Territory. Shot on location in northeastern Arizona’s Monument Valley, John Wayne plays Ringo Kid, an ex-con and the only one among the group who possesses the survival skills to keep them alive.

 

The earliest Westerns were filmed in New Jersey.

They derived from the Wild West shows that were touring the country in the late 1800s. California’s long days of sunshine and variety of outdoor settings quickly lured film companies to the West.

 

Silver-screen singing cowboy Tex Ritter was the father of actor Jon Ritter — known by millions for his role as bachelor Jack Tripper in the television series “Three’s Company.”

Tex Ritter appeared in numerous Western films, primarily in the mid-1930s and 1940s, and went on to achieve even greater fame as a Western recording artist.            

 

Trivia courtesy of Scottsdale's Museum of the West.       

Connor Pelton

Reporter , ASU Now