Published on Thursday, May 23, 2013
A week-and-a-half before the culmination of the mechanical engineering senior design capstone project, the Formula SAE ® Michigan competition, YCP Racing students were faced with an unforeseen challenge. During the final testing phase, their race car was in a minor accident (with no injuries), causing all of the suspension components to be destroyed.
“We told the students that they didn’t need to compete in Michigan, but they insisted on rebuilding the car in time for the competition,” said Scott Kiefer, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and a faculty advisor. “The group worked together day and night, and while they had to cut a few corners, they fixed it.”
At the May competition, the race car passed the technical inspection easily, and their team was one of only 13 of the 128 teams to do so the first time without any modifications.
The YCP Racing Team’s vehicle earned a 66th place overall ranking, and finished 51st in the skid-pad test, 21st in acceleration, 65th in autocross, and was one of only 41 to complete the endurance event.
“The fact that the students came together to rebuild the car after the accident, was more important than the competition,” said Kiefer. “The teams do continue to improve every year during the events.”
Two underclassmen joined the team at the competition to get ideas for next year’s race car and are already back on campus getting things started.
“Because next year’s capstone class has more than 30 students, they will be building both a Mini Baja and a Formula-style race car,” Kiefer added.
What is the senior design capstone project?
A major component of the mechanical engineering curriculum is the senior design capstone project, in which students apply the technical skills they have learned in their studies and Co-Op experiences to a real-world design problem.
What is Formula SAE?
Formula SAE® is a student design competition organized by SAE International (formerly Society of Automotive Engineers). The first competition was started back in 1978 and was originally called the Mini Indy.
The concept behind Formula SAE is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a design team to develop a small Formula-style race car. The prototype race car is to be evaluated for its potential as a production item. The target marketing group for the race car is the non-professional weekend autocross racer. Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules whose purpose is both to ensure onsite event operations and promote clever problem solving.
Watch as the team competes in autocross.