Florida Tech engineering students have the need for speed

via Florida Tech Today

When dual mechanical and ocean engineering major Mark Nanney began his studies at Florida Tech in fall 2010, he had already aced the equivalent of a culminating project.

He not only completed it, but achieved stunning results. At Southeast High School in Bradenton, Fla.,Nanney was design and manufacturing engineer on the Formula 1 (F1) Unitus Racing team. The team’s little car, in competition with identical, miniature, CO2-powered balsawood F1 race cars, won the Formula 1 in Schools world title in Singapore in 2010. Still onboard, Nanney helped take the team to third place in fall 2011 in Malaysia—the first team in the history of F1 in Schools to gain two podium finishes.

Nanney remains enthralled with cars and motors, but has not yet selected a project to culminate his Florida Tech engineering studies. “Working on Unitus was a great experience. Seeing how everything worked together was an orchestra of engineering and the experience has definitely helped me in my engineering classes,” said Nanney.

Whether it’s a need for speed or the smell of the grease pit, car projects are popular with many other Florida Tech engineering students. In 2009, students worked on a “green” quarter midget car.

In 2008, a hybrid with a formula body type was a project, and in 2007, a team focused its efforts on an electric car. Mini-Baja off-road car projects are favorites most years.

This year, students in the Florida Tech motorsports program are building a Florida Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) F1 and a Baja, which, of course, is bigger than a Mini-Baja, but is the same idea—a car that can climb in ravines and over boulders. Another project team is working on how to bring a flying car closer to reality, while the 5th Wheel Aerodynamics team is researching the efficiency of various trailer designs using a wind tunnel.

These teams are among those laboring to produce a product that will show well at the annual April Northrop Grumman (NG) Engineering and Science Student Design\ Showcase on campus. Judges will also evaluate their written papers and posters. All their work will count when they vie for design showcase awards and when prospective employers stop by to take a look.

 Carlos Vargas is captain of the FSAE F1 team, heading up other aspiring engineers who will compete in 2012 against about 100 other F1 teams in Lincoln, Neb., and Brooklyn, Mich. They’ll work to “wow” with their design and in racing—autocross, endurance, acceleration and skid pad.

“Our car is based on a single-piston 450cc engine from a Can-Am ATV and uses a steel tube frame. We hope to have it completely finished in January 2012,” said Vargas. The car will be painted,”

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