Auto engineering expertise on display at LTU Grand Prix
November 7, 2021
SOUTHFIELD—Under a spectacular sunny sky on a crisp autumn afternoon, students from Lawrence Technological University and seven other universities showed off their race car building skills Saturday at Lawrence Technological University’s 12th Grand Prix.
Along with Lawrence Tech, teams from Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Oakland University, the University of Toledo, Wayne State University, and Western Michigan University put their half-scale Indy cars through their paces on a course laid out on an LTU parking lot.
Also on display were the vehicles of LTU’s other SAE competition teams, SAE Aero Design, in which students design and build radio-controlled cargo aircraft, SAE Electric, in which students design and build an all-electric race car, and SAE Supermileage, in which students design and build one-cylinder lightweight cars for maximum MPG.
SAE Aero Design showed off their 2021 aircraft, but said they’re building a new biplane design this year. The SAE Supermileage event was canceled for 2021 due to the pandemic, but team members said the vehicle they displayed could have achieved 700 mpg in competition.
LTU has a long history in Formula SAE, a student design and racing competition organized by SAE International (previously known as the Society of Automotive Engineers) and first held in 1979. The event is held in the spring at several sites around the country; LTU hosted the national event three times in the 1980s. Today, the finals for most Midwestern teams are held at Michigan International Speedway in early summer, after the academic year ends.
In Formula SAE, students conceive, design, fabricate, and compete in half-scale open-wheel race cars. There are restrictions on the car frame and engine so that the knowledge, creativity and imagination of the students are challenged. The cars are built with a team effort over a period of about nine months; in all, about 140 colleges and universities around the world participate. Judging criteria include engineering design; cost; performance on a skid pad; a braking test; an endurance test; and a team presentation. The end result is a great experience for young engineers to work on a meaningful project as a dedicated team.
LTU’s Formula SAE team has 14 student members, all seniors, plus several alumni volunteers. The team’s faculty advisor is Rozie Zanganeh, assistant professor in LTU’s A. Leon Linton Department of Mechanical, Robotics and Industrial Engineering.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation's top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best in the Midwest. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.