Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Driving Forward

Senior Jameel Rose needs $25,000 for a new car. But he doesn’t want the car to go over 75 miles per hour, and he’ll only drive it every other weekend. Right now, he’s stuck using his 2008 model.

Rose is the president of FAU’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), a group of 15 students who design and build their own formula-style race cars. In the past three years, the team raced two different cars at the national Formula SAE competition in Brooklyn, Michigan. They plan to compete again in 2010, but first they have to build a new vehicle.
“We’re currently working on research and development,” says Rose, an electrical engineering major. “Driving the car isn’t even 5 percent of the work.”

Instead of starting from scratch, the team is modifying the design of their most recent car, which was completed in May 2008. This car came in 31st place out of 120 competing universities — an improvement from 47th out of 140 schools in 2006.
“It probably takes about 2,000 hours [to build a car],” says Oren Masory, chair of the mechanical engineering department and the team’s faculty adviser.

Two-thousand hours is the equivalent of working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks a year. Luckily for the students, the estimate is based on combined effort, not individual.

Still, the 2008 car took almost two years to complete. The group came up with the design in the summer of 2006, started building in fall 2007, and finished the following April.

To compete, the SAE members must build a car from top to bottom, adhering to certain frame and engine constraints. However, the competition isn’t all about speed. The car is also judged on its endurance, acceleration and overall design.

The only part that the students don’t build is the engine. Instead, they purchase a motorcycle engine.

This isn’t because of a lack of skill, but time and money, says Conor Sullivan, a mechanical engineering major and SAE’s vice president. “We’d love to put one together.”

The club earns its money through fundraising and uses it to pay for car parts and racing fees. One fundraiser they’re working on is a car show for February. The event will take place on the Boca campus, and students can register their cars for the show online.

Although raising money is necessary, Masory would rather have non-engineering students handle the business side of the project, giving the rest of the team more time to work out the kinks in the car.
“I prefer the engineers do engineering, [and] the people who squeeze the money, squeeze the money,” Masory says. “Some schools have a group of about 30 kids, and less than half are engineers.”

At the moment, the FAU team is completely made up of engineers. Sullivan’s job is to improve the suspension and frame of the car, and Rose is responsible for the electronics and drivetrain.

Around once every two weeks, SAE members practice driving the car in lot 5 on the Boca campus. If all goes well, they’ll be able to drive their new car by early next year.

For more info on SAE or to enter the car show, visit owlsracing.fau.edu.

What these terms mean / in English:

Drivetrain: The parts connecting the transmission with the driving axles of a car / The pieces that make the car move

Suspension: The system of devices (such as springs) supporting the upper part of a vehicle on the axles / The part of the car that keeps you from feeling every little bump in the road

Formula car: An open-wheel, open- cockpit, rear-engine racing car conforming to prescribed specifications for size, weight and engine displacement / Basically, a car similar to the one in the photo

[Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary, www.merriam-webster.com]

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