Following two semesters of planning, creating, testing and constantly improving their vehicle, the University of Michigan’s 2010 Formula SAE team finally enjoyed the fruits of their labor this past summer. MRacing took home two second place finishes from both domestic and international racetracks, along with a prestigious first place award from FEV, Inc.
“Coming off the 2009 season when the MRacing team had drastically improved its results over 2008, the team was feeling confident we could push the envelope even further,” said ME senior Nathan Lusk, captain of the 2011 team. This confidence, coupled with the team’s impressive ingenuity, propelled them to victory at the Formula SAE competition at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in May, and at Formula Student Germany, held in Hockenheim, Germany, in early August. At both competitions, MRacing finished second overall. “It is the best feeling in the world to know that a team that you put so much time and effort into is able to be this successful in an international competition,” commented Lusk.
At the MIS competition, the team was presented with the FEV Powertrain Development Award, thanks in particular to its sensational performance in the cost and acceleration categories. FEV, Inc., an internationally recognized powertrain and vehicle engineering company, chose the recipients of this award by considering the elements that are most critical in the development of a powertrain, such as performance, fuel economy, durability and cost. In addition to receiving the award at MIS, MRacing also set a new track record by accelerating a 0 to 75 meter distance in 3.67 seconds and took home the Joe Gibbs Spirit of Innovation Award, sponsored by Joe Gibbs Racing. The Spirit of Innovation Award recognized the extensive Matlab-based simulation work completed by team member and ME student Sumeet Rai.
Michael Wang (suspension), Sam Fowle (suspension), Michael Mosburger (driver), and Alex Curaudeau (engine cooling) prepare for a race at Formula Student Germany.
Just as the FEV award challenges students to focus on aspects relevant to real-world product design, the Formula SAE competition is intended to present a kind of microcosm of the engineering and business project process. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) student members comprising Formula SAE teams spend one year conceiving, designing, and fabricating a small, formula-style racing car according to a set of restrictions. These restrictions, placed on features such as the car frame and engine, test the students’ creativity as well as their knowledge. Approximately 120 colleges and universities from around the world compete annually.
Last year’s captain, ME student Chai Pocknett, commends his team members for their incredible dedication to the project, a commitment that exceeds over 50 hours a week on top of classes. “It’s hard to find a more dedicated group of students at this University,” Pocknett said. “Last year’s success was greatly due to the hard work and experience of a veteran team. Over the past few seasons we have been able to compete with the world’s elite due to sound designs and significant testing time.”
The upcoming 2011 Formula SAE season marks the 25th anniversary of MRacing. As captain, Lusk remains positive towards this year’s prospects, saying that “the team has been working extremely hard to continue its recent success.” “The 2011 season is going to be an evolution of the 2010 season with some drastic improvements to the car and team’s structure,” he added.
Most MRacing members are students in the ME department, including Chai Pocknett, Nathan Lusk, Sumeet Rai, John Hooff, Ryo Okuma, Katherine Lapham, Mason Koon, Brian Fallin, Nick Schaeferle, Sam Fowle, Garret Huff, Brennan Macdonald, and Geoff Rood.