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.
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:
|Cost & Manufacturing Analysis Event||100|
|Fuel Economy Event||100|
|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. The volunteers for the design judging include some of 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.