Summer marks the time for some students to rejuvenate before starting another school year. Others use it as an opportunity to take summer classes, participate in internships, or work.
For the Bronco Motorsports team, which consists of students in the Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) program, summer is the season each year when the group starts the racecar manufacturing process.
Each Formula SAE season typically begins in mid-June and ends in mid-May the following year. Formula SAE is one of the largest collegiate competitions in the world that challenges students to build, design, and test a formula style race car.
The team typically completes manufacturing by the end of fall, conducts testing in the winter and spring, and competes in May during the annual Formula SAE competition held at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.
In this year’s competition, held May 17-20, the Broncos competed against 120 universities in various events where they placed sixth in autocross course (a timed race around a course defined by cones or pylons, 20th in skid pad (a test to measure the vehicle’s maximum cornering capability through measuring the total time it takes for the vehicle to complete one left hand and one right hand circle), and 13th in acceleration.
Overall, the team placed 40th out of the 120 universities and is determined to improve in the next season, according to CPP FSAE President Sneha Ramakrishnan.
Since building a race car requires an enormous effort, Ramakrishnan explains that the team divides the work into different subsystems: electrical, powertrain, aerodynamics, and vehicle dynamics.
“Our subsystem captains would conceptualize the fundamentals, develop, manufacture, and test parts on and off the car to ensure functionality and reliability,” Ramakrishnan said.
Ramakrishnan said the two most challenging aspects of building a Formula SAE car are ensuring seamless integration of over 25 different subsystems as well as the one-year time constraint to build the car while juggling academics.
“This challenge teaches us valuable time management skills and allows us to apply classroom knowledge to a real-world project,” Ramakrishnan said. “Witnessing the car drive for the first time is a remarkable sense of accomplishment for the team.”
Each Friday, the team hosts Shop Fridays in Building 17 to do various tasks. This includes preparing the car for testing on weekends, providing guidance and training to new members, machining and teaching skills like milling, lathe operation, and welding.
If funds are available, the team hopes to attend international FSAE competitions in Austria, Germany, and Italy this season.
Interested in building a racecar? The new team member selection process starts in the fall. Interested students are encouraged to join the Discord to find out more about the prospective member application process.