Purdue racing teams' commitment, hard work pay off

Purdue College of Engineering’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) racing teams have logged strong results during this year’s competition season, with one team enjoying its best finish ever.

The Purdue Electric Racing (PER) team designs and builds an open-wheel formula style race car including the 300 volt battery used to power the vehicle. At the Formula North competition held in Ontario, Canada the last week of May, the team placed third, its highest rank to date. The international competition consisted of 50 universities from the United States, Canada, Brazil, India and Pakistan. In addition to placing third overall, PER earned first-place finishes in the skid pad test and the acceleration test.

Another Purdue formula racing team, Formula SAE (FSAE) also designs and builds an open-wheel formula style race car and it is powered by a custom tuned 600cc Kawasaki R6 motorcycle engine. They competed May 9-12 at the Formula SAE Michigan competition held at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. The team finished 14th overall among 120 competing schools from Poland, Singapore, Spain, Venezuela, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Austria, Mexico and South Korea. Purdue’s open-wheel race car completed the 22-kilometer endurance race with a seventh-place finish as well as being the sixth highest ranked American team to compete.

Formula SAE competitions challenge teams to conceive, design, fabricate, develop, and compete with high-performance formula-style race vehicles. Competitions allow teams the opportunity to demonstrate and prove their creativity and engineering skills in comparison to teams from around the globe.

Formula SAE Electric was introduced in 2013. It allows the development of fully electric vehicles within the Formula SAE framework. Teams use vehicles powered only by electrical motors and compete in static and dynamic events such as design, presentation, cost, acceleration, skidpad, autocross, endurance and efficiency.

Purdue also has a third racing team, Baja SAE, whose car is an all-terrain off-road vehicle. Students design and build a prototype for a reliable, maintainable, ergonomic, and economic production vehicle that serves a recreational user market. Students function as a team to design, engineer, build and test their car, then promote it and compete with it.

All three Purdue teams spend the entire year designing, building and testing their vehicles. Students log hundreds of hours preparing their cars for spring and summer competitions. Todd Nelson, assistant director of Senior Design in Mechanical Engineering, is the faculty advisor for the teams.