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Designed for Speed

It's not news that Northwestern students tend to be overachievers. But even at Northwestern, raising more than $20,000 in cash while also collecting and assembling parts and supplies to build a race car with a top speed of 90 miles per hour is something to brag about.

For the first time in Northwestern history, engineering students competed in the Society of Automotive Engineers' Formula SAE automotive design competition, held in May at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. The competition brought together more than 100 teams of college students who had built small, open-cockpit race cars. They competed in several categories, including technical details (would the car flip over?), business viability (how much would it cost to produce?) and, of course, speed.

Team manager David Evitt, a fifth-year senior in mechanical engineering, said the most challenging part of the competition is the design portion.

"They expect you to really know your stuff, everything about the car and why you did what you did," Evitt said.

The Northwestern team placed 37th in design, which Evitt said put them on par with some of the more veteran teams.

The vehicle competed in every event, earning Northwestern second place among all the rookie teams in the competition.

The Northwestern team, founded two years ago by junior Brendon DiVincenzo, Grant Mahler (McC08) and senior Drew Price, plans to compete again next year. Team members have already begun building a new car.

— Christopher Danzig (J08)

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Formula SAE team
Members of Northwestern's Formula SAE team, clockwise from lower left, Zhefei Li, David Evitt, Kyle Liske and Brendon DiVincenzo, with Drew Price sitting in the driver's seat.Photo by Christopher Danzig (J08)