Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers, consisting of 12 students, are gearing up for the annual Formula SAE competition later in May.
Formula SAE is a student design competition where students build a car and race it against other teams from schools around the world. This year’s competition expects 120 registered teams to compete.
Hunter Pauloski, the captain of MNSU’s Formula SAE team, stated, “You’re tested not only on the car’s performance but your job as a researcher and an engineer. You’re tested on the design of the car, the manufacturing of the car, the cost, the manufacture ability, there’s a business presentation that you give while you’re at competitions. It’s a very thorough competition, it’s not just about building a fast car.”
Every year, Formula SAE team members, per the rules, must make a frame with either significant changes or a brand new frame from scratch every year. The cars are meant to be on a year to year development cycle as students are expected to build the whole entire racing car in just one year.
Pauloski stated, “For inspiration, we looked at previous years cars and other school’s cars to see what they have done as far as reducing the weight of the car, improving strength, different methods, and then from there it’s just applying everything that we learned across the four years of schooling.”
The car on average costs about $40,000 to make, as the students on the team are responsible for fundraising, mostly reaching out to local and national businesses.
Pauloski stated, “There’s a hundred different companies that support us in different ways either through donation, offering their services, parts discounts, stuff like that.”
Developing a car takes a lot of work as fundraising, developing, manufacturing, tweaking, building, etc. is a huge time commitment.
Pauloski stated, “There’s definitely been days where I’ve spent 20 hours on campus before. I show up at 8 a.m. and work till 4 a.m. As of lately it’s been about a six to eight hour average working on the car.”
With the amount of work needed in building a race car, burnout is inevitable. Pauloski agrees as he stated, “It’s really easy to get burned out, especially when things aren’t progressing the way we’d expect them to.”
Pauloski claimed they try to keep a positive outlook, “We try to keep on pushing forward. You spend all this time on something to make it perform really well, and at the end of the year you get to go out and test it, and experience what you’ve built. That’s really been the driving force.”
When asked what the biggest challenge is in the Formula SAE team thus far, Pauloski stated, “I think communication has been the biggest challenges so far this year, the technical work isn’t really that bad it’s just kind of trying to get everything in a small compact package, that along with the time frame which is really tight. It’s really hard to design, manufacture, assemble, test, and race a car in a year.”
However, despite the challenges, Pauloski is excited to get on the track and test their final product.
He stated, “I’m really excited to get to competition. I’m really excited to see how the car is going to perform. We’ve been doing some engine changes lately, we actually switched engines this year, so I’m very excited to see how that performs in the car vs. last year’s engine.”
The Formula SAE team has many components such as marketing, fundraising, designing, etc. Pauloski would like all students to know, “If you’re interested in getting involved in Formula SAE, it’s not just closed to the Automotive Engineering Technology major, we’re open to all majors.”
The Formula SAE competition is expected to be held in Brooklyn, Michigan at the Michigan International Speedway from May 8-11, 2019.
Although the graduating seniors are missing graduation including Pauloski, the team is very excited. Pauloski stated, “Honestly, I can’t really think of any other better ways to spend graduation weekend at a racetrack doing something that I love.”