Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Final competition preparation steps

This past weekend involved both work and play for team members. For the bulk of the day on Saturday, team alumni and current Pratt & Miller Engineering engineers John Lankes, Paul Strefling and Ben LeVesque returned to the shop to go over a mock Design event with FSAE West Competition Team members.

The Design event, often referred to as just 'Design,' is one of the most prestigious events within each Formula SAE competition, at least for our team. It is this event where SAE procures the best industry professionals - from a variety of backgrounds encompassing both the production and motorsport arenas - to test, or "grill" each team about their design philosophy, how their objectives relate to the overall goals of the car, what steps they took to get to the final product (the race car) and each designer's understanding of fundamental principles of the design of each system. There are three rounds of elimination for Design, each of which poses more difficult, in-depth questions to each Team Leader. In total, the event allows teams to earn up to 15% of the total amount of points in each competition.

Due to the long amount of time that MSU Team Leaders devote to the design, analysis, manufacturing and validation of every system on each car, this event means a lot to us. Of course, we like doing well because of the additional points that can be gathered, but there is something special about placing high in Design that doesn't exist in the other two static events. Last year, Car 9 placed 3rd in Design at Formula SAE West - our team's highest finish ever, and also our first time in the final round of the event. It was quite an honor to make it that far and to discuss your philosophies and thought processes with world-renowned experts, while nearly 80 of your fellow competing teams looked on. We hope to be there again this week - and this is why Saturday's mock session was welcomed by team members. Thank you to Paul, John and Ben for driving up to help out!

Sunday was a reward for everyone's hard work all year long. When building one of these race cars, under a very tight time schedule with a group of volunteers, things can get pretty...well, let's just say 'crazy,' at times. Emotions tend to peak remarkably well at 4 am during your fifth consecutive all-nighter, and so taking breaks outside of the shop to build camaraderie amongst team members is very important to keeping everyone happy throughout the good, the bad, and the very stressful times.

So, as we're going into one of the most stressful times of year - a competition week - we took the time to have a relaxing day away for team members; spending the day at my parent's cottage on Portage Lake in Pinckney, Michigan; jet skiing, boating and discussing everything except for Formula. It was a much needed and very helpful hiatus before our exciting week of little sleep, lots of sun, and copious amounts of water in Fontana.

The first wave of people leave Detroit-Metro airport in 14 hours, so my next update will hopefully include a safe arrival of all team members, race car and trailer in the greater Los Angeles area.

Until then, here are some pictures from the weekend, we hope that you enjoy them.

Go Green. Go White. Go Fast.


2009 Chief Engineer Andy Rogers and current Suspension Team Leader Jordan Smart review Chassis design with team alum. John Lankes and Paul Strefling

Jordan fields a vehicle dynamics question from John

Some of Sunday's crew on the sea wall (LtoR): Former Project Manager Jon Luckhardt, Body Team Leader Jim Guitar, 2009 Powertrain Intake/Exhaust Team Leader Drew Darling, Rachel Hall, 2009 Powertrain Cooling-Oiling Team Leader Marcus McDuffie, Corrie Zitkus, Suspension Team Leader Jordan Smart, Andy Rogers, and current Chief Engineer Josh Heyden.


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