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Formula Student: Effective Symbiosis of Theory and Practice

Formula student, also known as Formula SAE, was all about building a car with the ability to accelerate and turn corners fast. It is an exciting concept allowing students in the FAE programs to grow their careers in project management, team-building, and problem-solving.

Formula SAE competition has been complementing the engineering curriculum in schools for over four decades. This post addresses the concept of Formula SAE, its emergence and history, rules, manufacturability, car development procedures, and the program benefits.

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What is Formula SAE?

Formula SAE refers to a student competition concerned with the design and organized and managed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) international. The competition was launched in 1980 at the University of Texas by a group of SAE students.

The launch came after the failure and unsustainability of previous racing competition in the region. The competition challenges university teams at graduate and undergraduate levels to conceive, fabricate, create and compete using formula vehicles.

The competition supports the engineering curriculum and requires students to demonstrate their ability to create vehicles and race against the clock. The competing teams get a chance to showcase their creativity and skills in engineering.

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Formula SAE concept

Under Formula SAE, a fictional company has engaged a team of student designers to make a small formula-style race car. This race car has to be evaluated to establish its potential and whether it can be classified as an item of production. The prototype targets non-professional autocross racers.

Every team is required to design, create and test the race car based on specific rules. This procedure aims to ensure on-track safety and promote problem-solving abilities. The race car is evaluated in various events including:

• Cost analysis event

• Design event

• Presentation event

• Skidpad event

• Acceleration event

• Fuel economy event

• Autocross event

• Endurance even

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The History and rising of Formula SAE

In 1979, the SAE Mini-Indy under the leadership of Dr. Kurt M took place at the Houston University. This competition took place after some content regarding the Indy-style vehicle appeared in one of the leading magazines. Texas University was declared the overall winner in the competition and no other such competition took place after that.

In 1980, the members of SAE students at Texas University learned about the unsustainability of the Mini-Indy competition. They came up with the concept of an engineering design race that would enable students to put their engineering knowledge into practice by designing and developing a race car.

The discussion to launch the competition was led by John Tellkamp, Robert Edwards. They saw a competition where students could design and create a prototype race car, after which Professor Matthews named the competition “Formula SAE.” The professor insisted that the competition was engineering-based and not a driver's competition.

Rules of Formula SAE

The performance restrictions of formula SAE are relatively few. The team must constitute active college students, which presents obvious restrictions about the skill sets, work hours, and experience. The students can receive criticism and advice from the faculty or professional engineers but the car design is the full responsibility of the students.

The prototype car's engine should be Otto-cycle, four-stroke with a displacement not exceeding 710cc. It must be fitted with a cross-sectional air restrictor from beneath and a compressor with a diameter not exceeding 20mm for ordinary gasoline engines.

Sophisticated aerodynamic packages are not required in the competition but are quite common. The race car designs should be well justified based on computational fluid dynamics, on-track-testing, and wind tunnel testing.

Formula SAE manufacturability and programs supported

Formula SAE includes all business aspects including design, research, manufacturing, developing, testing, managing, and fundraising. Machining projects, rapid prototyping, and composite materials are used in building cars.

3D printing allows students to iterate various parts continuously and at reduced costs. Formula SAE supports students pursuing engineering courses in colleges, especially those who are passionate about engineering, racing, and teamwork.

Benefits of Formula SAE for students

Formula SAE competition is not limited to the need for speed. Through this competition, students can demonstrate their ability to solve problems by following the laid down procedures and rules. This can guide potential employers when making hiring decisions.

The competition entails design, testing, modification, and racing. Although most components are purchased, the fabrication process can be challenging. Students are required to assemble the tubes and this may be a first-time experience for many participants.

Formula SAE teaches students about the benefits of teamwork when solving problems and optimizing the prototype design. They also learn to be creative when going through the step-by-step procedures given by professional engineers. Students in a good team can learn about production efficiency, which is a good thing for potential employers.

Conclusion

Formula SAE is not about speed but the ability to approach a task by following the guidelines and sticking to the rules. Since Formula SAE started in 1980, many engineering students have become creative in solving problems and have embraced teamwork. Education is not complete until students put what they learn into practice. If they can do so, it means they can deal with complex tasks in school and beyond.

Author’s Bio:

Liam Smithardi is working with a media organization and is the main person behind the company’s success due to his outstanding performance as a writer and editor. He has similar good reviews on his freelancing profile, where he provides essay writing services to students. His free time is for learning digital art, taking French language classes and reading tech blogs.

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