VOLUME 11, NO. 2 SEPTEMBER 1997
WPI's Formula SAE student team placed 25th out of 93 collegiate teams at the annual Formula SAE Competition at the Pontiac Silverdome in Auburn Hills, Mich., in mid-May. The university's seven-member team built the race car as part of the competition, which was sponsored by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Teams came from the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.
The event pits teams of students against each other in a competition to design and build an open-wheeled, formula-type race car that is put through a battery of design and performance tests. The WPI vehicle was built as a Major Qualifying Project by seniors Steven Brockway, David Eron Flory, Todd Holbrook, Martin Lopez and David Paulk and junior Emilio Ciasullo. Robert Taylor, supervisor of technicians, and lab machinist Stephen Derosier were also part of the team. Joseph Rencis, associate professor of mechanical engineering, was the team's advisor. Two other juniors, Matthew Stone and John Toscano, also traveled to Michigan to observe and assist and to prepare for next year's competition.
The design team was challenged to fabricate a prototype car that a hypothetical manufacturing firm wanted to produce and market to nonprofessional weekend autocross racers. The car was to have high-performance acceleration, braking and handling. The company needed to produce 1,000 of these cars each year at a cost below $8,000.
"This was an extremely reliable car," said Rencis. "It was one of the few cars that finished every race without any mechanical problems during the three days of competition. We also did quite well in the acceleration tests, finishing 16th overall."
At the awards luncheon WPI was recognized as one of the teams that finished all of the events. Holbrook received a Delco Automotive Innovative Electronics Award in recognition of his electronics work on the car's traction system. The team's report, with documentation, was rated eighth overall.
The team and WPI Detroit-area alumni were feted at a reception hosted by Scott Bicknell '75 at the Cadillac Historical Museum in Warren, Mich.
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