The Oregon State University Formula SAE team put in their best performance to date this July at the Auto Club Speedway in Los Angeles, coming in second place by a slim margin. They competed against 48 teams from U.S. and around the world – some as far away as Brazil, India and South Korea. The choice of a single cylinder engine and careful design of each component gave them the lightest vehicle in the competition at 307 pounds. It was one of the quickest and sturdiest, too, coming in first overall in the 22-kilometer endurance race.
The competition also gave the team a great test run for their upcoming, month-long trip to Hockenheimring, Germany, for an even steeper, more challenging international competition. “The best teams in the world compete in Germany,” says Trevor Takaro, a junior engineering major. “But with what we learned in California, we feel like we can compete well there, and maybe even win.”
SAE Formula cars are judged by industry professionals in three static categories (design, cost and a business presentation) and four dynamic events (acceleration, skid pad, autocross and an endurance/fuel economy race). Oregon State’s team placed first in combined dynamic events as well as fuel economy. The team placed second in design and overall in the competition.
The idea behind the competition is for student teams to create a design that could be sold to industry and mass-marketed. “The competition puts your engineering skills to the test and prepares you for professional level design and fabrication,” says Eileen Nall, a junior mechanical engineering major.
The team’s success came despite the car’s suffering a major structural failure to the front suspension and carbon-fiber chassis early in the competition. A subsequent, massive 22-hour rebuild of the front end, however, thoroughly impressed the judges. “The teamwork exhibited by these OSU students in the face of adversity was tremendous,” says team adviser and associate professor of design and mechanics Robert Paasch.
The SAE team will be blogging as they prepare for – and leave for – Germany.