Formula SAE (FSAE) is a collegiate design competition organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers Student Organization (SAE) in which students design, build, and race formula style cars against other schools. It was founded in 1978 and has evolved to focus on each team’s ability to design and test a small racecar. The competition gives students the ability to showcase their ideas, knowledge, and creativity with loose car restrictions. The teams, including the drivers, are made up entirely of college students, but they can get advice and assistance from teachers and professionals. The cars are built from scratch and teams spend months or years trying to perfect a design. SAE provides a set of rules that all teams must follow in order to compete. The rules are meant to make sure that the car is safe and the first part of a competition is a full-car inspection to ensure that all the rules are followed.
The competition requires teams to participate in static and dynamic events. The static events include a cost analysis, engineering design, and a business presentation. The cost analysis forces students to choose parts for their car design based on a cost versus performance mentality. The engineering design requires students to justify all design decisions. In the engineering design event, judges are interested in finding out why students chose to design certain parts of the car the way that they did. Students must be able to justify all decisions they made by provided data and computer simulations to show why the chosen method is the best. The business presentation allows students to try to sell the car to a group of investors. In the presentation, students must prove why the car is a valuable investment and why the car would be able to produce a profit.
The dynamic events allow students to drive the car that they have manufactures. The dynamic events include acceleration, skid pad, autocross, and endurance. Acceleration is a straight, 75 meter speed test where students try to travel the distance in the shortest time possible. Skid pad is a figure –eight course design with the objective of testing the lateral g’s the car can take before breaking out. Autocross is a single lap track with several turns, chicanes, and slaloms which test the vehicle’s handling, maneuverability, and acceleration. Endurance is a multiple lap event where two drivers must both drive several laps with a driver switch in the middle. The event tests the durability of the car to see that it continues to work after an extended period of stressful racing.
If you would like to learn more about FSAE, visit the SAE International website.
Each event is worth a specified percentage of a team’s cumulative score and the team with the highest score at the end of the competition is crowned the winner.
Skid Pad (5%)
Endurance/Fuel Economy (40%)
Engineering Design (15%)
Cost Analysis (10%)
Business Presentation (7.5%)