Tuesday, May 24, 2005
OU SAE team takes 56th in global competition
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
The Silverdome parking lot came alive with the sound of revving engines and smell of fuel as 140 schools, including Oakland University, competed in the 2005 Collegiate Design Series Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competition May 18-22. OU’s car finished 56 out of 140 teams overall.
Students from all over the world design, build, test and compete with the formula-style cars according to SAE regulations.
At the beginning of the competitions, the teams give presentations on sales, engineering design and cost analysis of the car. They then take to the track to compete in five dynamic events including acceleration, skid-pad, autocross, fuel economy and endurance.
OU was within the top 30 teams, but after a steering gear failure, the team was unable to complete the endurance portion of the competition and fell in the standings.
Faculty adviser Brian Sangeorzan, associate professor of engineering, said flukes come up and this was a problem the team handled as best they could.
“That’s really the nature of this competition,” he said.
Cornell finished first, the fourth time in five years the team has taken the top spot.
OU’s team of 15 students, including doctoral, graduate and undergraduate students, worked for an entire year to build the car strictly for this competition. The team plans to take a few weeks off and then start over on next year’s car, which must be rebuilt from scratch every year.
OU has been competing in the Formula SAE competition since 2002, when it assembled a car by using whatever parts were on hand and finished 123rd. Now the team has sponsorships from a number of sources including OU Board of Trustees member David Fischer and OU friend and benefactor Stephan Sharf.
“Without their support, we would have trouble getting into this competition,” Sangeorzan said.
In 2004, a hot start issue held the team to 49th place, and in 2003, the team finished 13th. The team hopes to improve in the coming years.
“It’s an evolutionary process,” said Carly Goward, team leader for the 2005 competition. “You can see what can be improved and improve it for the next year.”
OU’s Formula SAE team is open to all students, not just those in engineering. The team needs students, especially those in business areas, who can help with the cost analysis, marketing and fund-raising aspects of the competition.
“There is nothing like this experience in the normal curriculum,” Sangeorzan said. “It’s really a complete engineering and business experience.”
Not only do the students involved in Formula SAE learn about the car they designed and built, they also learn from other schools.
“That’s the primary goal of this competition,” Goward said. “It’s a benefit to be able to interact with other teams. You really learn to look at things from a different perspective.”
For more information on the competition, visit the 2005 Collegiate Design Series Formula SAE Web site. For more information on OU’s Formula SAE team, visit the OU SAE Web site.