The 2002 MRacing team poses with their award-winning formula car.
The UM student racecar team, MRacing, finished in fourth place out of 140 competing teams at the annual international FormulaSAE collegiate design competition held May 15-19 at the Pontiac Silverdome.
The FormulaSAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) competition, regarded as the premier and largest engineering student competition in the world, pits student teams against each other to conceive, design, manufacture, test, and race with small formula-style cars.
Michigan’s leadership included the following students (all from Mechanical Engineering): May graduates Ben Brady (Team Leader), Keith De Maggio, Clint Vigus, and Greg Pearce; December graduates Jason Kline and Jeff Mosher, who are enrolled for graduate studies; Ph.D. candidate Bruno Vanzieleghem, and senior Bob Riley. The team advisor is Department of Mechanical Engineering Professor and Chair Dennis Assanis, director of the Automotive Research Center and Walter E. Lay Automotive Laboratory.
Besides its overall fourth-place finish, the Michigan team also won $600 for the Spirit of Excellence Award; $250 for placing third in the Mechanical Dynamics Functional Digital Formula Car Award, which rewards the best use of computer software for design; and a set of Goodyear tires for the Best Performance Award in the endurance competition. The endurance is the toughest of the events, with only 30 percent of participants actually finishing the race.
“Participating in FormulaSAE is the best way for college students to learn how to be a successful engineer in today’s globally competitive business environment,” says Brady. “It challenges students to their limits, makes them extremely accountable and responsible for their actions, and forces them to improve teamwork, project management and communication skills in an atmosphere that absolutely cannot be simulated in academic courses.”
While many student teams are finishing their cars up to the last minute, MRacing keeps a rigorous schedule which allowed them to finish six weeks early this year and put their car through significant advanced testing. The challenge of building a prototype for this competition spans the entire calendar year, with an emphasis on research and design in the summer and fabrication starting in the fall. The key leadership even lives and works in Ann Arbor during the summer, getting an early start on preparations for the next race.
The teams start from scratch building their vehicle each year, but they actually begin with the previous year’s design and improve upon it. Vehicles are judged in the categories of design, cost, business presentation, acceleration, skid pad, autocross, endurance, and fuel economy.
Competing against student teams from universities in nine countries, MRacing scored 763 out of a possible 1,000 points in the race, placing them behind teams from Cornell University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Georgia Tech.
MRacing enjoys a 14-year history of excellence in the FormulaSAE competitions, including winning the 1994 world championship. The team’s budget of more than $35,000 is funded by corporate donors, alumni, and other individual gifts.