Nine colleges and universities will rev up their scaled-down race cars Saturday as Lawrence Technological University hosts its annual LTU Grand Prix for Formula SAE teams.
The event runs from 1 to 5 p.m. in the northern end of Parking Lot C on the Lawrence Tech campus. (For location and directions, see www.ltu.edu/map.)
The event will feature a time-trial competition between the student vehicles, which can attain speeds upwards of 50 mph.
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 each spring, 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 SAE for off-road vehicles, Formula Hybrid for hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, Formula Aero for large model airplanes, and Supermileage for ultra-high-mileage cars.
Saturday, Lawrence Tech will be showing off its Formula SAE, Baja, Hybrid, Aero and Supermileage vehicles.
Other colleges and universities bringing Formula SAE vehicles to the Grand Prix will be Hope College, Ferris State University, Kettering University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Toledo, Wayne State University, and Western Michigan University. Bringing in a Formula Hybrid car will be the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Also attending as spectators will be Formula teams from Grand Valley State University, the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and the University of Windsor, and the Formula Hybrid team from the Milwaukee College of Engineering.
“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 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.”