Engineering students to compete in Formula SAE competition

Formula SAE racecar at Embry-Riddle Daytona Beach EngineeringBy building their own open-wheel style racecar, a group of engineering students hope to outrace their opponents during a national competition in the spring.

The 38-member team, comprised of both undergraduate and graduate students, mostly from Mechanical Engineering, recently finalized a complete CAD design for the Formula SAE competition in Michigan, where they will compete against 119 teams next May. They will spend the next several months building and testing their chrome-moly steel race car that can race at speeds up to 70 miles per hour with rapid acceleration.

This is the first time since 2006 that students at Embry-Riddle have competed in Formula SAE, a competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Last year, students planned to participate in the competition but experienced a critical failure three weeks before the race. They used the opportunity to travel to the competition and get all kinds of design tips from the top teams.

We learned a lot about checks and balances,” said Mark Kauffman, the team’s tech lead. “We have learned to stop and think about things before running with an idea.”

The team hopes to place in the top 30 next year. Using CAD software such as CATIA and Solidworks, the students spent several months designing the vehicle and will conduct the majority of manufacturing and testing at ERAU’s High Performance Vehicles Lab

Formula SAE advisor and engineering professor David Spitzer said that his students are right on schedule, and that the experiences students gain through Formula SAE in the past have helped them secure internships, co-ops and jobs with leaders in the aerospace and automotive industries.

He said that students worked diligently since the summer to meet a design deadline of Nov. 9.

There have been ups and downs, changes to the team makeup, late nights and surprises — but they have rallied together,” Spitzer said. “Now, the focus will shift to building the car by the Feb. 13 deadline, followed by spring testing.”

The team is also seeking sponsorships to help offset the cost of vehicle construction and traveling to the conference. For more information, visit