Students on the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinal Formula Racing team have been burning the midnight oil to get their Indy-style race car ready to compete in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) Collegiate Design Series May 9-12 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.
The annual competition features the top college racing programs from around the world; this year’s field features 116 teams.
This year’s SVSU squad has been hard at work overcoming last-minute challenges. The team worked late Monday night – past 1 a.m. – and were back in the Carmona Family Performance Racing Lab by 7 a.m. Tuesday morning to replace an engine on the car and get a new back up engine ready for competition.
“There was a problem with our first engine,” said team co-captain Kameron Carey, a mechanical engineering major from Saginaw. “We have had professionals look at it, and even they can't figure out what is wrong with it. We have another engine – a backup – that we swapped in Sunday night. We just have to chug along.”
Carey and his teammates are committed to upholding SVSU’s proud tradition of doing more than chugging along. Each of the past three years, SVSU has recorded the highest finish among exclusively undergraduate programs, including last year when the team placed 45th overall, ahead of schools such as Michigan Tech, Penn State and Purdue.
Cardinal Formula Racing has placed in the top 20 four times overall: 6th place in 2002, 8th in 2005, 14th in 2008 and 18th in 2010. Twice SVSU built the fastest college race car in the world, winning the acceleration category in 2008 and 2014; the 2017 team posted the 6th fastest time.
Despite the late setback, Carey remains optimistic about this year's team, due to their willingness to work together and their individual knowledge.
“Compared to last year's team, we have more overall know-how with this year's group,” he said. “We still have a young team, but there is a lot of experience among us. This year, we have a better understanding of everything.”
Students gain valuable practical experience that supplements what they learn in the classroom, including how to respond to difficult situations.
“The more you put into the team, the more you get out of it,” Carey said.
The team benefits from the guidance of Brooks Byam, SVSU professor of mechanical engineering, who has served as the team's advisor for 20 years. He was the 2013 recipient of the Carroll Smith Mentor's Cup from the Society of Automotive Engineers, the top honor given to faculty who advise college formula racing programs.
For more information on SVSU's Cardinal Formula Racing program, please visit www.svsu.edu/cardinalformularacing/.
For more information about the FSAE Collegiate Design Series competition, visit www.sae.org/attend/student-events/formula-sae-michigan/