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.”