Nebraska Engineering students steer car teams to achievements

Calendar Icon Jun 27, 2013      Person Bust Icon By Carole Wilbeck | Engineering     RSS Feed  RSS  -  Submit a Story

UNL's second year vehicle rises in the standings at the 2013 international Formula SAE event in Lincoln

Whether speeding across pavement in a racecar or climbing muddy steeps in an offroad vehicle, Nebraska Engineering students found success in 2013 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competitions. Both teams improved on their past records and, though they sacrificed many hours of sleep and free time, team members gained experience to make them stand out in consideration by future employers.

The UNL teams spend months designing and building their vehicles according to precise guidelines, and apply testing and research in hopes to give their entries an edge in competitions. Along with enhancing their technical skills, students on the SAE teams also grow their “people skills” including teamwork and leadership.

In a major event at Western Washington University in May, the UNL Baja team finished third overall by earning second place in the endurance race and first in the acceleration event. Team captain Zach Blackford, a mechanical engineering student, said UNL entered two vehicles in the competition, and the freshmen car was the acceleration winner with a time of 5.58 seconds. The two UNL entries earned $2,000 in prize money from their strong finishes, with funding planned to augment resources for the 2014 team.

Weeks later, the Nebraska team competed at the international Baja SAE championship in upstate New York, but the UNL entry broke a suspension component. The team thanks its sponsors and fans for their support through the season and looks forward to further improvement in 2014.

“In Washington we scored in the top ten for almost every event, and we were in the top ten for design at both competitions--very difficult for a small team, “Blackford said. “Our design goal was to lose 70 pounds on the car (from last year), and we met the goal with an 80-pound loss, for a 330-pound car.”

UNL’s Formula SAE team rose in the standings of the 2013 international Formula SAE competition that brought approximately 80 teams and more than 1,000 students and participants to Lincoln in June. The Husker Motorsports team placed 22nd in Cost Presentation, 25th in Design Presentation, 48th in Business Presentation, 10th in Acceleration, 39th in Skid Pad events, 38th in Autocross and DNF in Endurance events, due to a loose component on the vehicle in the last lap.

Electrical engineering graduate student Chris Wilson led the UNL Formula SAE team, with many Nebraska Engineering students adding expertise. The team thanks its sponsors and fans, and plans to return as the home team in the 2014 event.

Photo credits: David Wilson (UNL Formula SAE images)

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