Formula SAE Team Finishes in Top Half

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

JUNE 21, 2007--Formula SAE Team Finishes in Top Half, Gears Up for 2008
Michigan Tech’s Formula SAE team finished in the top half of the 2007 Formula SAE competition, held May 16-19 at the Ford Proving Grounds in Romeo. The team ranked 48th in a field of 106.

It’s not first place, but it’s still gratifying for mechanical engineering senior Robert Mooney. In 2005, his first year on team, they finished in the basement at 101st and then edged up to 89th in 2006.

What did they do to surge up 40 places in the rankings? “This year, we really pushed to keep things simple and get the vehicle done on time,” he said. “As far as engineering, we changed a couple things in the suspension this year, and that’s about it. We just focused on getting it done quickly so we had time to test it over and over.”

In the Society of Automotive Engineers Formula competition, students from colleges all over the world conceive, design, fabricate, and compete with small, formula-style racing cars.

“Our car runs zero to 60 mph in about 4.4 seconds,” says Mooney. “It’s like a motorcycle in car form.”

While he would like to spend more time on the engineering aspects of Formula, Mooney has devoted most of the 30 hours a week he gives to Formula working to organize and inspire the team. “I learned a lot about working together and communication,” he says. “And you will eventually learn each part of the vehicle.”

A big payoff has been getting to drive. “You work all year to drive it around the parking lot,” he says. “Everybody’s worked so hard, you don’t go out to break it. We test it and test it before we have fun with it.”

The team would benefit from additional faculty involvement and financial support, says Mooney. Then he could spend more time being an engineer instead of a project manager. In any case, the team remains committed to its goal for 2008: a finish in the top 20.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.