UC Bearcat Motorsports Formula SAE Team Races for First Place

By: Ashley Duvelius
May 7, 2012

The UC Bearcat Motorsports Formula SAE Team is set to compete at Michigan International Speedway May 9-12 against teams from 125 universities around the world.

UPDATE (5/25): 2012 Bearcat Motorsports Formula SAE Race Team Update: Placed in Top Third at Competition!

Congratulations to the UC Bearcat Motorsports Formula SAE Team as they placed 33rd overall at the Michigan International Speedway competition May 9-12 against teams from 125 universities around the world.

The team’s 33rd overall placement is highlighted by their 5th place finish in the fuel economy event. As for static events, the team did well as their car was one the most inexpensive vehicles in the competition. Although they battled throttle issues, the team persevered and finished the endurance course for the first time in four years.

Formula SAE’s mission is to promote careers and excellence in engineering as it encompasses all aspects of the automotive industry including research, design, manufacturing, testing, developing, marketing, management and finances. FSAE takes students out of the classroom and allows them to apply textbook theories to real work experiences.

Each team’s challenge was to develop a small formula-style race car for a fictional manufacturing company who has contracted a design team. The prototype race car they design was evaluated for potential production. Target market for the students’ race car was amateur weekend autocross racers. Each team designed, built and tested a prototype car based on a series of rules which ensure onsite event challenges and problem solving.

 

FSAE Team with Car

Attention UC:  It’s that time again- time to start your engines!  Get ready to cheer for your Bearcats Motorsports Formula SAE (FSAE) Team as they prepare for two grueling competitions. The team is all geared up for the first of two competitions at Michigan International Speedway May 9-12. There will be about 125 universities from around the world competing in Michigan. The second competition is in Lincoln, Nebraska June 20-23. And our Bearcats are confident that they will finish well in both.

The first FSAE competition was held in 1979. The event originated when Mark Marshek of the University of Houston contacted the SAE Educational Relations Department in 1978 to discuss adding a similar event to the Mini Baja- the name Mini Indy was proposed.

FSAE’s mission is to promote careers and excellence in engineering as it encompasses all aspects of the automotive industry including research, design, manufacturing, testing, developing, marketing, management and finances. FSAE takes students out of the classroom and allows them to apply textbook theories to real work experiences.

sae finishing touches

Each team’s challenge is to develop a small Formula-style race car for a fictional manufacturing company who has contracted a design team. The prototype race car they design is to be evaluated as a potential production item. Target market for the students' race car is amateur weekend autocross racers. Each team designs, builds and tests a prototype car based on a series of rules which ensure onsite event challenges and problem solving.

This year the Bearcat Motorsports Team is comprised of old-pros with a total of 26 seniors on the team. Team leader, senior Dan Ruggiero, has been on the team since his freshman year and has been racing since age 12. In fact, the FSAE car serves as many of the members’ senior project. Also on the team are 6 juniors, 1 pre-junior, 1 sophomore and 2 freshmen on the team. Students’ majors are primarily mechanical engineering but other colleges are represented including one student in digital design at DAAP. From creating the original 3D model to making simulations of the car to figuring actual dimensions and finally to assembling it, projects on the car were distributed and carried out across the team.

sae welding

The race officially began in September when the team started to brainstorm and create the car’s design. Using a computer simulated modeling program called Solid Edge ST4 they virtually built the car. The model was then placed into a computer program called ANSYS® which tests the model design for stresses in structure and shows whether the structure will hold up to the demands of stresses and extremes on the car. This design process continued until around Thanksgiving, then the focus switches to building the frame.

From Thanksgiving to the first of the year, the team works on building the frame. Every piece of the frame is welded by team members. After the frame is made, assembly of the parts begins. The team constructs all the parts by hand, except for the commercially available ones such as the brake calipers, shocks and the engine.

sae welding 2

For the 2011-12 FSAE Season, the Bearcat Motorsports Team is shifting things up a notch. Historically, teams have used motorcycle engines to bring their designs to life. However, this team opted for a lighter alternative—the Yamaha YFZ450, an ATV engine. Ruggiero, explains, “There is more of an effort to have cleaner running cars this year. The ATV engine has its advantages. In addition to fewer emissions, this engine is cost effective and weighs less.”

The team also elected to use a smaller 10 inch wheel package of Hoosier tires. These two changes combined make the car much lighter—it’s weighing in at a mere 330 pounds, the lightest vehicle by far.

sae parts

Once assembly is complete, the fun begins. At a remote location the team test drives their creation. Testing the car runs from around the beginning of March until mid-April. Mid-April to competition is crunch time. During which time, the team finalizes assembly, creates a parts list (bill of material), composes assembly instructions, makes a production cost statement, readies for sales presentations to big manufacturers and puts a Bearcat paint job on the car. Then it’s off to the races.

sae beginnings

Universities from around the world come to compete in FSAE. Cars are judged in a series of static and dynamic events which include technical inspection, presentation, cost, solo performance trials, engineering design and high performance track endurance. Teams are given a template and cost sheet to complete from FSAE. The lower the cost the better the car, and this year, the team has the lowest cost in many years. A good start toward finishing first.

Dynamic events determine how well the car performs. There are four dynamic events: Skid Pad, Acceleration Run, Autocross and Endurance. Skid Pad tests how fast the car can take curves and turns. Acceleration Run is your basic drag race—cars race on a straight stretch of 75 meters. Autocross is a sprint from point A to point B on an obstacle course and the quickest time wins. Finally, the Endurance race is the longest timing in at about 20 minutes as cars race against each other in a span of 22 kilometers. There is a different team member driving the car in each race, except for the Endurance race which changes drivers at the midway point.

sae almost complete

Static events judge the cost, presentation and engineering design of the prototype. The team pitches a 10 minute sales presentation about their car to big car manufacturers like General Motors, Honda, Ford and Chrysler. Then team members explain their design choices to judges in an intense 45 minute question-and-answer session.

Cars are ranked in each of these categories: Cost Analysis, Endurance, Design, Presentation, Acceleration, Skid Pad, Autocross and Economy. The team with the most overall points will win the competition. In the past, the UC Bearcats Motorsports FSAE Team has placed in most, if not all, of the events and in the top ten for overall points. This season, the team has its sights set on finishing first.

rolling out sae

Cars are ranked in each of these categories: Cost Analysis, Endurance, Design, Presentation, Acceleration, Skid Pad, Autocross and Economy. The team with the most overall points will win the competition. In the past, the UC Bearcats Motorsports FSAE Team has placed in most, if not all, of the events and in the top ten for overall points. This season, the team has its sights set on finishing first.

Only a couple days remain until UC Bearcat Motorsports FSAE Team competes at Michigan International Speedway and the team is amped up! Ruggiero says, “All of us are looking forward to competing against teams from around the world, beating most of them and finishing in the top 10. Then we can say we are among the top teams in the world!”

Congratulations to the seniors as most have secured jobs beginning after graduation in June. The following seniors have a bright future just on the horizon: Dan Ruggiero has secured a job with the Duke Energy Corporation, Corey Vinton and Ben Zeigler plan to work for Leoni AG, Micah Wahnback will be at Siemens AG while Cummins Inc. welcomes Justin Speer. Mike Gruber goes on to the General Electric Company, Drew Schauer is with The Timken Company, the American Honda Motor Co., Inc. brings in Matt Hupman, Ali Matbouli will work for the Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. and David Young was recruited by Makino.

UC Bearcat Motorsports Formula One SAE Team keeps UC’s stellar reputation in full throttle!

sae car spotlight

To watch a video of the UC Bearcat Motorsports FSAE Team test drive, select the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUgl1qno5p4

Select for a print version of this story: UC Bearcat Motorsports Formula One