Engineering students designed and built a race car that accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds and placed in the top 10 overall in an international race car competition.
LOBOmotorsports, the UNM Formula Society of Automotive Engineers team, competed in the 2012 FSAE competition from June 20-23 in Lincoln, Neb. Project Manager Garrett Kuehner said the team placed 10th overall and set new standards in two events for UNM at the competition by placing fifth in business presentation and sixth in endurance.
Kuehner said the 2012 FSAE team was the highest-placing team in UNM history and the third team from UNM to complete the endurance competition.
According to LOBOmotorsports, UNM’s 2011 race car placed 26th, the 2010 car placed 19th and the 2008 car placed 24th.
Kuehner said the team focused on making the car smaller and lighter than the 2011 car. He said this year’s car weighs about 495 pounds, which is about 45 pounds lighter than the previous design. He said the team also focused on ensuring the front and rear suspension complemented one another. The team was able to test the car for about three months, which allowed members more time to practice driving and perfecting the car.
“We made a lot of alterations to the car,” he said. “We dropped about 10 percent of our weight, which is a huge drop in weight.”
Kuehner said the team traveled with 21 members, but only two members, systems engineer Devin Plagge and driver trainer Josh Farley, raced the car at the competition. He said the team was well prepared for the competition and only had trouble because the car exceeded the 110 decibel noise limit by four decibels.
“The car did what it was supposed to do, but we had a little bit of trouble passing the noise test,” he said. “Before you’re allowed to compete in dynamic events, we have to go through a full tech inspection, a tilt test and a brake and noise test.”
Program Director John Russell said the competition tests research, design, manufacturing, marketing, management and finances skills, and that students have to design, build, present and race the car at the competition. He said students participate in the competition through a three-semester program that offers students hands-on experience in automotive engineering.
“It’s a big shock to go from planning your car to actually working on a team, but the students run the team activities,” Russell said. “It’s run just like if we were a part of the industry, but it’s within the University so students have a chance to experience the industry.”
Kuehner said the team spent three semesters designing, building and racing the car and learning to work together as a team. He said the team was prepared for the competition and has already begun working on improvements for next year’s car.
“We really came in charging,” he said. “Overall, we came out prepared, we came out ready and we came out eager.”