Formula SAE

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Formula SAE is a student design competition organized by SAE International (previously known as the Society of Automotive Engineers, SAE). The competition was started in 1980 by the SAE student branch at the University of Texas (Austin) after a prior asphalt racing competition proved to be unsustainable (see History).

Concept[edit]

The 2007 design finalist cars; from the left, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, TU Graz, University of Wisconsin - Madison, and Kansas. Absent is the Pennsylvania State University

The concept behind Formula SAE is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a student 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 ensuring on-track safety (the cars are driven by the students themselves) and promoting clever problem solving.

The prototype race car is judged in a number of different events. The points schedule for most Formula SAE events is:[1]

Design Event 150
Cost & Manufacturing Analysis Event 100
Presentation Event 75
Acceleration Event 75
Skidpad Event 50
Autocross Event 150
Fuel Economy Event 100
Endurance Event 300
Total Points Possible 1,000

In addition to these events, various sponsors of the competition provide awards for superior design accomplishments. For example, best use of E-85 ethanol fuel, innovative use of electronics, recyclability, crash worthiness, analytical approach to design, and overall dynamic performance are some of the awards available. At the beginning of the competition, the vehicle is checked for rule compliance during the Technical Inspection. Its braking ability, rollover stability and noise levels are checked before the vehicle is allowed to compete in the dynamic events (Skidpad, Autocross, Acceleration, and Endurance).

Formula SAE encompasses all aspects of a business including research, design, manufacturing, testing, developing, marketing, management, and fund raising.

Big companies, such as General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, can have staff interact with more than 1000 student engineers. Working in teams of anywhere between two and 30, these students have proven themselves to be capable of producing a functioning prototype vehicle.[2]

The volunteers for the design judging include some the racing industry's most prominent engineers and consultants including the late Carroll Smith, Bill Mitchell, Doug Milliken, Claude Rouelle, Jack Auld, John LePlante, Ron Tauranac, and Bryan Kubala.

Today, the competition has expanded and includes a number of spinoff events. Formula Student is a similar SAE-sanctioned event in the UK, as well as Formula SAE Australasia (Formula SAE-A) taking place in Australia. A Formula SAE West event takes place in California but will be replaced by SAE Lincoln in Nebraska for 2012. The Verein Deutscher Ingenieure (VDI) holds the Formula Student Germany competition at Hockenheimring.

In 2007, an offshoot called Formula Hybrid was inaugurated. It is similar to Formula SAE, except all cars must have gasoline-electric hybrid power plants. The competition takes place at the New Hampshire International Speedway. [1]

Summary of rules[edit]

Student competition[edit]

Formula SAE has relatively few performance restrictions. The team must be made up entirely of active college students (including drivers) which places obvious restrictions on available work hours, skill sets, experience, and presents unique challenges that professional race teams do not face with a paid, skilled staff. This restriction means that the rest of the regulations can be much less restrictive than most professional series.

Students are allowed to receive advice and criticism from professional engineers or faculty, but all of the car design must be done by the students themselves. Students are also solely responsible for fundraising, though most successful teams are based on curricular programs and have university-sponsored budgets. Additionally, the points system is organized so that multiple strategies can lead to success. This leads to a great variety among cars, which is a rarity in the world of motorsports.

Engine[edit]

The engine must be a four-stroke, Otto-cycle piston engine with a displacement no greater than 710cc. An air restrictor of circular cross-section must be fitted downstream of the throttle and upstream of any compressor, no greater than 20mm for gasoline engines or 19mm for ethanol-fueled engines. The restrictor keeps power levels below 100 hp in the vast majority of FSAE cars. Most commonly, production four-cylinder 600cc sport bike motors are used due to their availability and displacement, however there are many teams that use smaller V-twin and single-cylinder engines, mainly due to their weight-saving and packaging benefits. Though it is permitted, very rarely do teams build an engine from scratch, such as Western Washington University's 554cc V8 entry in 2001 and University of Auckland's V twin.

Suspension[edit]

The suspension is unrestricted save for safety regulations. Most teams opt for four-wheel independent suspension, almost universally double-wishbone. Active suspension is legal.

Aerodynamics[edit]

There are few regulations or requirements on aerodynamics. Most teams do not build aerodynamic packages as the speeds involved in FSAE competition rarely exceed 60 mph (97 km/h), and design judging tends to frown upon aerodynamic parts that do not have definite test data, usually in the form of wind tunnel testing or at least computational fluid dynamics analysis. Therefore, most cars that do utilize aerodynamic downforce tend to develop their entire car around the aerodynamic package, including massive wings and undertrays. The benefit of a well-developed aerodynamic package is evident; depending on how fast the course is, the slowest aero-package cars sometimes run several seconds per lap faster than any of the non-aero cars.

Weight[edit]

There is no weight restriction. The weight of the average competitive Formula SAE car is usually less than 440 lb (200 kg) in race trim. However, the lack of weight regulation combined with the somewhat fixed power ceiling encourages teams to adopt innovative weight-saving strategies, such as the use of composite materials, elaborate and expensive machining projects, and rapid prototyping. In 2009 the fuel economy portion of the endurance event was assigned 100 of the 400 endurance points, up from 50. This rules change has marked a trend in engine downsizing in an attempt to save weight and increase fuel economy. Several top-running teams have switched from high-powered four-cylinder cars to smaller, one- or two-cylinder engines which, though they usually make much less power, allow weight savings of 75 lb (34 kg) or more, and also provide much better fuel economy. If a lightweight single-cylinder car can keep a reasonable pace in the endurance race, it can often make up the points lost in overall time to the heavier, high-powered cars by an exceptional fuel economy score.

Example: At the 2009 Formula SAE West endurance event, third-place finishers Rochester Institute of Technology completed the endurance course in 22 minutes, 45 seconds with their four-cylinder car, while fourth-place finishers Oregon State University finished in 22 minutes, 47 seconds with their single-cylinder car; this gave RIT 290.6 of 300 points for the race portion of the event and OSU 289.2 points. However, OSU used the least fuel of any car (.671 US gal (2.54 l), or 20.3 mpg‑US (0.116 l/km) over the entire endurance race) and received the full 100 points for fuel economy, while RIT used 1.163 US gal (4.40 l) (11.75 mpg‑US (0.2002 l/km)) and was thus only awarded 23.9 of the available points. RIT went on to win the overall competition by only 8.9 points over OSU, having scored slightly better in all of the other dynamic events.[3]

Safety[edit]

The majority of the regulations pertain to safety. Cars must have two steel roll hoops of designated thickness and alloy, regardless of the composition of the rest of the chassis. There must be an impact attenuator in the nose, and impact testing data on this attenuator must be submitted prior to competing. Cars must also have two hydraulic brake circuits, full five-point racing harnesses, and must meet geometric templates for driver location in the cockpit for all drivers competing. Tilt-tests ensure that no fluids will spill from the car under heavy cornering, and there must be no line-of-sight between the driver and fuel, coolant, or oil lines.

History[edit]

In 1979 the only SAE Mini-Indy was held at the University of Houston. Conceived by Dr. Kurt M. Marshek, the competition was inspired by a how-to article that appeared in Popular Mechanics magazine, for a small, "Indy-style" vehicle made out of wood, and powered by a five-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine. Using the Mini Baja competitions as a guide, engineering students had to design and build small, "Indy-style" vehicles using the same stock engine used in the Popular Mechanics article. Thirteen schools entered and eleven competed. The University of Texas at El Paso won the overall competition.

Although Dr. William Shapton (who had recently left the University of Cincinnati to join Michigan Technological University) broached the idea of hosting a similar competition in 1980, no one stepped up to organize another Mini-Indy.

In 1980 when the members of the new SAE student branch at the University of Texas (Austin) learned that the Mini-Indy had died, they generated the concept for a new intercollegiate student engineering design competition that would allow students to apply what they were learning in the classroom to a complex, real-world engineering design problem: design and development of a race car. UT SAE student branch members Robert Edwards and John Tellkamp led a discussion among UT SAE members and envisioned a competition that would involve designing and constructing a race car along the lines of the SCCA Formula 440 entry-level racing series that was popular at the time. Prof. Matthews came up with the “Formula SAE” name following the format of Formula A and Formula Vee but emphasizing that this new race car was an engineering competition rather than a driver’s competition. Schools would meet after the end of the academic year to compete and determine who had built the best car. Edwards, Tellkamp, and fellow UT SAE students Joe Green, Dick Morton, Mike Best, and Carl Morris drafted a set of safety and competition rules and presented them to the SAE student branch membership and to UT SAE Faculty Advisor Prof. Ron Matthews. Prof. Matthews then contacted Bob Sechler of the SAE Educational Relations Department at SAE headquarters and asked for his permission both to establish the new intercollegiate student engineering design competition and to host the first Formula SAE competition during the summer of 1981, and he agreed. The newly formed UT SAE branch, consisting mostly of automotive and motorcycle enthusiasts pursuing engineering degrees, including several who had left careers in fields for which the job market had virtually disappeared due to the depressed economy in the early 1980s – including some experienced auto mechanics, embraced and adopted the concept with little idea of what they were getting themselves into. SAE student branch officers Mike Best, Carl Morris, and Sylvia Obregon, along with Dr. Matthews began planning and organizing the event to be held the following year.

Here, it is important to note that Formula SAE was NOT a simple renaming of the Mini-Indy competition but was instead an entirely new intercollegiate student engineering design competition. Unlike all previous SAE-sanctioned student racing/design competitions including Mini-Indy, the Formula SAE rules left the selection of the engine to the design team, as long as a 4 stroke engine with a one-inch diameter intake restrictor was used. (The current Formula SAE rules allow the teams to use 4-stroke engines up to 675 cc, with a smaller restrictor.) Also, unlike all previous SAE-sanctioned student racing/design competitions including Mini-Indy, engine modifications were both allowed and encouraged. The first Formula SAE competition was held in the parking lot of the UT baseball field (Disch-Falk field) on the University of Texas campus on Memorial Day weekend, 1981. Judges included legendary race car engineer/owner/driver and Indy 500 champion Jim Hall. While a sudden Texas rain storm sent everyone scrambling for cover just before the endurance event that day, the weather failed to dampen the spirits of the students, judges, or spectators and Formula SAE was born. The University of Texas continued to host the event from 1982 to 1984 as the popularity and number of participants grew. In these subsequent years, UT moved the Formula SAE competition to other parking areas that included elevation changes and driveway aprons that forced the use of functioning suspensions. The event became international in 1982 with the entry of Universidad La Salle team from Mexico City. The significant rules changes for 1982 were: 1) a displacement limit of 600 cc (300 cc for Wankels), but the 1 inch diameter restrictor rule was retained, 2) a requirement for 4-wheel independent suspension (Mini-Indy did not have any suspension rules), and 3) the addition of a temporary “B&S” class of vehicles that were originally designed for Mini-Baja, had to retain the 8 hp Briggs & Stratton engine, and did not need to comply with the 4-wheel independent suspension rule. Formula SAE continued to be an international competition when the team from Universidad La Salle returned. With the only engine restrictions being a displacement limit of 600 cc and a 1 inch maximum diameter for the intake, creativity flourished. Also in 1983, the temporary B&S class was eliminated, the University of Texas at Austin entered the first composite Formula SAE vehicle and Marquette University entered the first turbocharged engine. The rules allowed a Formula SAE car to compete for two years in recognition of the effort required to build and test a quality car. This also allowed students the experience of re-engineering and improving on design elements that did not work. The rules for 1984 specifically allowed turbochargers, superchargers, and use of nitrous oxide but the engine had to breathe through a 25.4 mm exit bore of the carburetor casting (1984 was well before electronic fuel injection). Engine intake restrictors were later tightened as cars became faster year over year as knowledge was passed on within and between teams. Also, a 65-100 inch wheelbase rule was promulgated, as was a rule requiring all vehicles to have a “body that resembles a formula car”. The Formula SAE field had grown to eleven cars in 1984, so the University of Texas at Austin decided that the competition had matured sufficiently that it was safe to pass it on to other hosts.

The University of Texas at Austin hosted the competition through 1984. In 1985, the competition was hosted by The University of Texas at Arlington. There, Dr. Robert Woods, with guidance from the SAE student activities committee, changed the concept of the competition from one where students built a pure racing car, to one that mirrored the SAE Mini-Baja competitions, where they were to design and build a vehicle for limited series production.

General Motors hosted the competition in 1991, Ford Motor Co. in 1992, and Chrysler Corp. in 1993. After the 1992 competition, the three formed a consortium to run Formula SAE.

At the end of the 2008 competition, the consortium ceased to exist. The event is now funded by SAE through company sponsorships and donations along with the teams' enrollment fees.

Winners[edit]

2001–present[edit]

Year Formula SAE Formula Student (UK) Formula Student Germany FSAE Australasia (Australia) FSAE Japan FSAE Brazil FSAE Italy Formula SAE Lincoln FSAE West (USA) Formula Student Austria Formula Student Hungary Formula Student Spain
2016 Germany University of Stuttgart Germany University of Stuttgart Combustion:

Germany Munich University of Technology

Electric: Germany Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Australia University of Wollongong  Japan

Kyoto Institute Of Technology:

Grandelfino

Combustion:Brazil University of São Paulo - EESC-USP, São Carlos

Electric:

Brazil Universidade Estadual de Campinas

Combustion:Germany UAS Coburg

Electric: GermanyDresden University of Technology

Electric: Czech Technical University

Combustion: Auburn University

Combustion:

Germany University of Stuttgart

Electric: Switzerland ETH Zürich

Combustion:

Germany University of Stuttgart

Electric:

Netherlands Delft University of Technology

2015 United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing Netherlands Delft University of Technology Combustion:

United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing

Electric: Netherlands Delft University of Technology

Australia Monash University Austria TU Graz Brazil University of São Paulo - EESC-USP, São Carlos

Electric: Brazil Centro Universitário da FEI

Combustion:

Austria UAS Graz

Electric: Germany UAS Zwickau

Combustion:

United States

San Jose State University

Electric: United States

University of Pennsylvania

(event not held) Combustion:

United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing

Electric: Switzerland ETH Zürich

Combustion:

Germany University of Stuttgart

Electric: Switzerland ETH Zürich

Switzerland ETH Zurich
2014 United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing Netherlands Delft University of Technology Combustion:

United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing

Electric: Switzerland ETH Zürich

Australia Monash University Japan Nagoya University:

FEM

Combustion:

Italy University of Bologna

Electric:

Brazil Universidade Estadual de Campinas

Combustion: Austria Graz University of Technology

Electric: Estonia Tallinn University of Technology

Combustion:

United States University of Kansas-Lawrence

Electric: Brazil Universidade Estadual de Campinas

(event not held) Combustion:

United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing

Electric: Switzerland ETH Zürich

Combustion:

United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing

Electric: Switzerland ETH Zürich

2013 Germany University of Stuttgart Switzerland ETH Zürich Combustion:

United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing

Electric: Netherlands Delft University of Technology

Australia Monash University Japan Kyoto University Combustion:

Brazil Centro Universitário da FEI

Electric:

Brazil Universidade Estadual de Campinas

Combustion:Germany University of Stuttgart

Electric: Germany University of Stuttgart

Combustion:

United States University of Washington

Electric:

Brazil Universidade Estadual de Campinas

(event not held) Switzerland ETH Zürich Combustion:

Germany Esslingen University of Applied Sciences

Electric:

Germany Munich University of Applied Science

2012 United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing Sweden Chalmers University of Technology Combustion:

Germany University of Stuttgart

Electric:

Netherlands Delft University of Technology

Australia Monash University Japan Kyoto Institute of Technology Combustion:

Brazil Centro Universitário da FEI

Electric:

Brazil Universidade Estadual de Campinas

Electric:

Germany West Saxon University of Applied Sciences of Zwickau

Combustion:

Germany University of Stuttgart

United States University of Kansas-Lawrence (event not held) United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing Combustion:

Germany Esslingen University of Applied Sciences

Electric:

Switzerland ETH Zürich

Hybrid:

United States Brigham Young University Canada Université de Sherbrooke (tie)

Electric: United States University of Kansas

2011 United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing Class 1:

Germany University of Stuttgart

Class 1A:

Netherlands Delft University of Technology

Combustion:

United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing

Electric: Netherlands Delft University of Technology

Australia Monash University  Japan Sophia University Brazil Centro Universitário da FEI Germany University of Stuttgart Canada École de technologie supérieure (event not held) United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing Combustion:

Germany DHBW Stuttgart

Electric:

Switzerland ETH Zürich

United States Texas A&M University - College Station
2010 United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing Class 1:

Germany Munich University of Technology

Class 1A:

Switzerland ETH Zürich

Combustion:

Netherlands Delft University of Technology

Electric:

Germany University of Stuttgart

Australia Monash University  Japan Osaka University Brazil Centro Universitário da FEI United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing United States Rochester Institute of Technology (event not held) United StatesGermany Global Formula Racing Germany University of Hannover Italy Politecnico Di Torino
2009 Austria Graz University of Technology Germany University of Stuttgart Germany University of Stuttgart Australia Monash University  Japan University of Tokyo Brazil Centro Universitário da FEI Germany University of Stuttgart United States Rochester Institute of Technology United States Missouri University of Science and Technology United States Texas A&M University - College Station
2008 Australia University of Western Australia Germany University of Stuttgart Netherlands Delft University of Technology Germany University of Stuttgart Japan Sophia University Brazil Centro Universitário da FEI Germany University of Stuttgart United States University of Maryland - College Park United States University of Wisconsin–Madison
2007 United States University of Wisconsin–Madison Australia RMIT University Germany University of Stuttgart Australia University of Western Australia Japan Sophia University Brazil Faculdade de Engenharia de Sorocaba Germany University of Stuttgart United States Texas A&M University - College Station
2006 Australia RMIT University Canada University of Toronto Austria Graz University of Technology Australia RMIT University Japan Sophia University Brazil Centro Universitário da FEI Austria UAS Graz (FH Joanneum) United States Texas A&M University - College Station
2005 United States Cornell University Canada University of Toronto Australia University of Western Australia Japan Kanazawa University Brazil University of São Paulo - São Carlos Austria Graz University of Technology
2004 United States Cornell University Australia RMIT University Australia University of Wollongong United States University of Texas at Arlington Brazil University of São Paulo - São Carlos
2003 Australia University of Wollongong Canada University of Toronto United States Georgia Institute of Technology Japan Sophia University
2002 United States Cornell University United States Georgia Institute of Technology Australia University of Wollongong
2001 United States Cornell University United States Georgia Institute of Technology United States Rochester Institute of Technology

1981–2000[edit]

Year Formula SAE Formula Student (UK) Formula SAE Australasia (Australia)
2000 United States Texas A&M University United States California State Polytechnic University - Pomona Australia University of New South Wales
1999 United States University of Akron United States Rochester Institute of Technology
1998 United States Cornell University United States University of Texas at Arlington
1997 United States Cornell University
1996 United States University of Texas at Arlington
1995 United States University of Texas at Arlington
1994 United States University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
1993 United States Cornell University
1992 United States Cornell University
1991 United States Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
1990 United States University of Texas at Arlington
1989 United States University of Texas at Arlington
1988 United States Cornell University
1987 United States University of Maryland - College Park
1986 United States University of Texas at Arlington
1985 United States University of Texas at Arlington
1984 United States University of Houston
1983 United States University of Texas at Arlington
1982 United States University of Texas at Austin
1981 United States Stevens Institute of Technology

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bob Woods, 1996 Formula SAE Rules, (Warrendale, PA) : Educational Relations SAE International, inadition, winners were Chihuahua Institute of Technology´s students, from mexico p. 4.
  2. ^ Dean Case, Student Talent, Racecar Engineering, Vol. 5 No. 3 (England): p. 35
  3. ^ http://www.sae.org/students/fsaew2009results.pdf
  1. Bass, Edward A., Larry M. Bendele, and Scott T. McBroom (1990), "The 1989 Formula SAE Student Design Competition", SAE Paper 900840, doi:10.4271/900840.
  2. Beckel, Stephen A., Sylvia Obregon, and Ronald D. Matthews (1982), "The 1982 National Intercollegiate Formula SAE Competition", SAE Paper 821093, doi:10.4271/821093.
  3. Matthews, Ronald D., Richard K. Morton, and Billy H. Wood (1983), "The 1983 Formula SAE Championship Competition", SAE Paper 831390, 1983, doi:10.4271/831390.
  4. Matthews, Ronald D., Dan Worcester, Billy Wood, and Tim Ryan (1984), "The 1984 Formula SAE Intercollegiate Competition", SAE Paper 841163, doi:10.4271/841163.

External links[edit]