CBU students create Formula SAE car from the ground up
Riverside, Calif. (Aug. 9, 2018) – Matt Miller, a mechanical engineering senior at California Baptist University, has become a car guy thanks to the Society of Automotive Engineers student club within the Gordon and Jill Bourns College of Engineering.
Miller has received hands-on mechanical engineering training while constructing a Formula SAE car the past two years.
“The highlight for me, both last year and again this year, was the build,” Miller said. “Working on the car is fun and challenging, but the relationships and memories that occur during that time are my favorite part.”
SAE student club has worked to construct cars the past two years to race at the national Formula SAE annual competition.
The goal of the SAE club is to give students hands-on experience in engineering design, said Dr. Daniel Clark, assistant professor of aerospace, industrial and mechanical engineering and SAE advisor.
“The purpose is to take things that students learn in the classroom and develop it so they can make that jump to know what would be expected of them in the industry,” Clark said.
In general, the Formula SAE rules require that students design, construct and then race their vehicle. Additionally, there are pages of regulations to follow and deadlines to meet.
Design of the car started in September 2017, followed by the manufacturing in February 2018. The team consisted of 20 active members that worked throughout the year on the project.
“Going from having Excel spreadsheets to a finished car that does exactly what we expected it to, that was cool,” said Andrew Ricci, a recent CBU graduate.
When Katie Mast, a mechanical engineering sophomore joined the SAE club, she admits to being a novice with automobiles, tools and the engineering involved with racing. However, over the course of the year, she gained a better understanding and can now find her way around the auto shop.
“This past year included more of me observing and learning everything that goes into the build,” Mast said. “Next year I am looking forward to fully being able to apply what I learned this year and design my own components to go on the car.”
In June 2018, the team competed against 72 other universities from across the U.S. and five other countries in Lincoln, Nebraska. CBU’s vehicle placed in the middle of the pack with a 44th overall finish in the preliminaries. The team is now analyzing the results and looking to improve on their performance.
Team members want to make the car lighter and more reliable next year. They will consider different materials and plan to test various parts that will be used in the vehicle. They also are eager to construct their car in the Vehicle Dynamics Lab in the new Dennis and Carol Troesh Engineering Building in the coming year.
“I’m looking forward to getting to use the new top-of-the-line machinery especially the welders,” said Spencer Judy, a mechanical engineering junior and president of the SAE club.