Formula SAE Team Places Fifth at International Competition

Formula SAE Team Places Fifth at International Competition
Cal Poly's team finished fifth overall in the Formula SAE West competition. (Photo courtesy of Professor Greg Cook, mechanical engineering departmet)
Students install a new intake manifold.
Cal Poly students competed against more than 80 teams around the world.

Overcoming major mechanical programs, Cal Poly Pomona's Formula racing team finished strong at the Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) West competition at the Auto Club Speedway.

The team placed fifth overall out of 85 teams in the international competition, held June 25-28 in Fontana. It also placed first in the endurance event, first in skid pad and second in sales presentation.

The day before competition, a backfire shattered the ABS intake manifold when the car was fired up for a final tune-up. It could have been a tough race-ending blow for the team, considering the part includes three pieces that each requires 20 hours to build. Fortunately, the mechanical engineering lab at Cal Poly Pomona and a company in Glendale were able to rebuild the part in a moment's notice.

“We pulled it together, and we were able to win the endurance event, which is the prized event,” said team treasurer Gino Villanueva, a mechanical engineering major.

The team designed and fabricated the formula racing car under rigorous demands and with a budget of $30,000. There are tight restrictions for car frames and engines, so students must be resourceful, creative and imaginative in order to vie for the top prizes. The design and fabrication process takes nearly a year. This year's team included about 20 students, most of whom are engineering majors. A marketing major helped with the sales presentation.

Villanueva said Cal Poly Pomona received a lot of praise from fellow competitors. “They told us — regardless of the car breaking down — we did have the best car and the best drivers out there,” said Villanueva, who was one of the team's four drivers.

Professor Clifford Stover, the team's faculty advisor, agreed: “Our engineering graduates, particularly out of the mechanical engineering program, are some of the most highly sought engineers in the country thanks to projects like the SAE collegiate design events. Working for an entire year on a project from conception to completion in a dedicated engineering team is one of the best ways to prepare our students for industry. Their commitment and professionalism is incredible. Congratulations on such a great performance.”

Professional engineers and racers score the entries at the competition. Points are awarded in categories such as engineering design, cost analysis, oral marketing presentation and high-performance dynamic track events including acceleration, skid pad, autocross and endurance.

For more details about the event, visit