The Society of Automotive Engineers entered its twentieth year of existence at Mines this year. Founded in 1993, the club’s original purpose was to build a race car to compete against schools across the world. In recent years, the club focused on putting together a car show every year during the E-days event. This year, the club is bringing back the race car along with hosting the car show. According to Jake Krapes, the current club president, the Society of Automotive Engineers currently has “about 70 people signed up on Orgsync, 40 active members, and 15 or so members are part of the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers.” The Formula team is the group of students involved in designing, building, assembling, and racing the car. One might wonder, “Can people still join?” “Of course! They can sign up on Orgsync under SAE, they will then get an email from me, and can come to a meeting which currently takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:00 pm in the auto shop in Brown,” says Krapes.
The car, currently being assembled, has a frame design by Jordan Johnson, a recently graduated student who did all of the designs in SolidWorks. Measurements were then transferred to steel rods which were cut and welded together to build the frame. The engine, a Suzuki 600 GSXR was the motorcycle engine the last formula club used to build their car in 2004. In addition, fuel injectors, a performance tuner chip, and a new intake wereadded. As the club has a tight budget this year, reusing as many viable parts as possible is essential to creating the best possible car. When asked about the tight budget, Krapes said, “We are going to make it work no matter how hard we have to squeeze the budget.” This group is adamant about getting a functional car on the road.
Two senior design projects are currently part of the completion of the car. One team is designing the front suspension and steering for the car while the other team is doing an aerodynamics package including a front and rear spoiler. As for the body, “We’re going to make it out of fiberglass, we have all the materials needed, although no one knows how. It can’t be that hard.” Krapes said. As February approaches, the car still looks more or less like a skeleton, and even with a slight engine set back with a blown valve, the team hopes to have the car driving by spring break. It is essential the club gets some time to test the car and fix any problems that arise. The race will take place June 19-22 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Eighty teams are currently registered, and when asked, Krapes mentioned that he has “heard Mines won most improved and $5,000 once but I’m not sure what the best place we’ve ever achieved.” When competing against schools like Cornell with has a base budget of $130,000 it is hard to compete with a $4,000 budget.
The race is broken up into several categories, including a new one this year for electrical cars. When asked about Mines pursuing and electric car, Krapes said, “We would love to go in the electrical direction but it’s not currently probable with the current budget… electric cars speak Mines more than anything.” The current car will compete in the competition, which is scored on a points system. Half the points come from design and presentation. The other half of the points are performance based. Points will be awarded in the categories of acceleration, lateral G turn, best lap time, endurance and gas millage. Much work is still needed to finish the car and Krapes encourages anyone who is interested in “a fun club where we get to do hands on learning that is actually related to engineering” to join. Both the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Formula team are looking for new members.