For the past few years, Florida Tech has invested a very large part of the motorsports budget and dedication into one of the largest collegiate design and race competitions held in various locations around the world: Formula SAE. This senior design project is also the one with the largest student team behind it, in hopes of placing in the top five this upcoming competition year.
The Formula SAE completion is hosted in various locations around the world such as Australasia, Brazil, Italy, Germany and many more. The Florida Tech team competes in the one hosted in Michigan. These competitions are made up of two different events, the dynamic events and the static events.
The dynamic events consist of various tasks such as the autocross event, where the car’s maneuverability is tested, or the endurance task where the car has to prove its durability by racing in a long term condition and showing its reliability, its fuel efficiency, etc.
The static events consist of events such as the design and cost reports where all of the specs of the car are presented. There is also a presentation where the students show a mock business case where he or she attempts to sell the design of the car over other designs.
This year’s senior design team, led by Blair Kania, is broken up into sub groups for ease of management. The team is made up of the leaders, the chassis team, the powertrain team, the aerodynamic and body team, and the suspension team. This allows for students to simultaneously work on different parts of the project to increase productivity and to have students with a specific set of skills to apply it to the areas of the car they know the best. This project is mainly led by Professor Morkos, but is also co-advised by Professor Micklow and Professor Reichard, with each advisor bringing his specific expertise to the table. I spoke to Kania in order to see what the biggest hopes, expectation and obstacles for this year’s Formula SAE team are.
What do you expect to get out your senior design project at the end of the year?
Ultimately, the Formula SAE Senior Design Project will be the culmination of our undergraduate careers. It will allow us to apply the knowledge we have learned throughout the mechanical engineering courses in a real-life setting. We will also learn team management, project planning and how to work together with a group of engineers to achieve a common goal.
What are you most excited to work on for your project?
I am most excited to complete the design phase and order our materials and parts so that we may begin manufacturing!
What is the biggest obstacle you think your team will have to overcome this semester?
Our biggest challenge over the course of the project will be communication amongst ourselves, and the team’s communication with the University when purchasing and tracking parts and materials. As a team with 21 senior design members and additional SAE members, any lapse in communication will have a negative impact on our progress.
Do you feel that the pressure of being compared/ doing better than last year’s team hinders or pushes your team’s work?
We are constantly working to improve upon and further the foundation built by last year’s team. There is definitely pressure that comes from being compared, but this has definitely pushed us to go above and beyond to achieve a higher quality of work.
If you want to learn more about Florida Tech’s Formula SAE team, see photos, and even purchase some awesome gear from them, visit their website. Stay posted for more awesome senior design projects Panthers!