June 11, 2008

Engineering students head to the race track

Gonzalez at the Educational SummitOn June 24, Sacramento State engineering students will take their hand-built race car to the California Speedway to compete against other college engineering teams.

The race, sponsored annually by the Society of American Engineers features about 80 college teams from around the world.

“The idea is to help college-age students understand the intricacies of the automobile and internal combustion,” says Emir Jose Macari, dean of the College of Engineering. “They take what they’ve learned in their thermodynamics and mechanical engineering classes, apply it, and see what happens as they modify it.”

The open-wheel, formula one-style cars are built by students according to guidelines provided by the SAE. Cars must adhere to SAE specifications, but rules allow for student innovation and creativity. “Every part has to work together,” says Michael Bell, Sacramento State formula team member. “If the design process is not in check, then the manufacturing and tuning processes become delayed, and that is bad for business.”

The SAE also has a spending cap of $25,000 and limits cars to a top speed of 65 mph. “It’s not Formula One speed, but we don’t want the kids to get hurt,” says Macari.

Last year, Sacramento State’s team placed 16th and topped bigger names including UC Berkeley, Ohio State University, Brigham Young University and Dartmouth College.

Race activities, including inspections, judging and race events, are June 25-28 at the California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

For more information on the race, contact Macari at (916) 278-6127. For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.