The University of Toledo took the top spot Saturday, Oct. 8 as Lawrence Technological University hosted nine other colleges and universities in its annual Formula SAE Grand Prix.
Western Michigan University took second place among the 10 teams competing in time trials on a twisty road course that snaked through a Lawrence Tech parking lot. Wayne State University took third.
Other universities competing included Formula SAE teams from Ferris State University, Kettering University, Hope College, and Lawrence Tech. The University of Michigan and LTU also competed on the course with their Formula SAE Hybrid gasoline-electric- powered race cars. LTU also sent its Formula SAE Baja off-road vehicle around the course, just for show.
In addition to the college and universities competing on the course, Grand Valley State University sent team members to network and observe.
The event is intended as a fun day of good-natured competition and networking during the “off season” for Formula SAE racing, which has its formal competitions in late spring and summer.
“A lot of these teams don’t have a lot of chance to interact during the competitions in the spring,” said Steven Rehak, a senior in Mechanical Engineering at LTU who is business manager of the university’s Formula SAE team. “The idea here was to give the students a chance to meet and start building a professional network now, because a lot of these students from the different universities will wind up working with each other.”
Sponsors of the event included the auto supplier Brembo North America, the city of Southfield, LTU’s Blue Devil Motorsports, the LTU College of Architecture and Design, the LTU College of Management, the LTU Department of Mechanical Engineering, and the LTU Office of Student Engagement. Providing food and drink for the event were Absopure, Better Made potato chips, Fuddruckers and US Ice.
Formula SAE is a student design competition organized by SAE International (formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers). The competition started in 1978 and was originally called SAE Mini Indy. In Formula SAE, student teams design and build a small Formula-style race car. In competitions held around the country, the cars are judged on design, cost, manufacturability, acceleration, handling, fuel economy and endurance.
Formula SAE has since launched spinoffs into other types of vehicles – Baja for off-road vehicles, Formula Hybrid for hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, Formula Aero for large model airplanes, and Supermileage for ultra-high- mileage cars.