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Student Design Competition

Student Design Competitions

In recent years, the number of intercollegiate design competitions and colleges that compete in then has increased drastically. In the late sixties and early seventies only one competition of significance existed Mini-baja. Today, almost every field of engineering has several design competitions. The Society of Automotive Engineers organizes the largest and most prestigious design competitions including Mini-baja, Sunryce, and Formula SAE. These competitions allow engineering students to gain practical knowledge in a useful and meaningful project. Of all the engineering competitions, Formula SAE is by far the largest and most competitive. The concept behind Formula SAE is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a student design team to develop a small Formula style race car. The prototype race car is to be evaluated for its potential as a production item. The target marketing group for the race car is the nonprofessional weekend autocross racer. The objectives of the competition are to introduce students to real world engineering situations and to teach students fabrication techniques used in industry. During competition, the prototype race car is judged in the following areas with the according points available in each area:"

          Static Engineering design.....................150
          Cost Analysis.................................100
          Technical Sales Presentation...................75
          Acceleration Event.............................75
          Skidpad Event.................................50
          Maneuverability Event.........................150
          Fuel Economy Event.............................50
          Endurance Event...............................350
          Total Points Possible.......................1,000 "(Woods 4).
In addition to these events, various sponsors of the competition provide awards for superior design accomplishments. For example, best use of M85 methanol fuel, innovative use of electronics, recycliablity, crash worthiness, and analytical approach to design are some of the awards available. Over the past twenty years Formula SAE has gained the respect of the automotive industry and professional race teams. Formula SAE encompasses all aspects of a business including research, design, manufacturing, testing, developing, marketing, management, and fund raising. Formula SAE takes students out if the class room and puts them in the real world. All too often engineering students graduate without the practical knowledge of how to design. Some of the worlds largest companies understand that fact, and as a result have an interest in Formula SAE. GM, Ford, and Chrysler all feel that this event (Formula SAE) acts as a screening process for them. Over three days, their staff can interact with more than 1000 student engineers. Working in teams of anywhere between two and 30, these students have proved themselves to be capable of producing a functioning prototype vehicle. (Case 35) In addition the automotive industry, professional racing has taken notice of Formula SAE. The volunteers for the design judging event include some the racing industries most prominent engineers and consultants including Carroll Smith, Bill Mitchel, Jack Auld, John LePlante, and Bryan Kubala. Involvement in Formula SAE means job opportunity. The University of Texas at Arlington competed in the first ever Formula SAE competition in 1982, and won. Since then UTA has become the most respected and most feared team in the Formula SAE competition. "The "Team Penske" of Formula SAE is the University of Texas at Arlington, which has never finished outside of the top ten since its first entering in 1982. (Case 36)" In 1995 and 1996 competitions UTA won the top prize called the Spirit of Excellence Award along with several other awards and 17,850 dollars. Intercollegiate design competitions give students practical knowledge and potential jobs. Each competition allows students to apply the theories and information they have learning in the class room to real world situations. Industry gains better prepared and more experienced engineers. Both students and industry benefit from intercollegiate design competitions.

Work Cited Page

Bob Woods, "1996 Formula SAE Rules", (Warrendale, PA) : Educational Relations SAE International, p. 4.

Dean Case, "Student Talent", Racecar Engineering Vol. 5 No. 3 (England) : p. 35-36.



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