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Northwestern Formula Racing Team Revving Up

Student group spent year building car for Formula SAE competition in Michigan

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May 8, 2013 | by Matt Paolelli

Students in Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science are accustomed to tackling difficult problems in their coursework and spending endless hours in the machine shop working on class projects. But for the 40 members of the Northwestern Formula Racing Team, the long hours -- and the learning -- continue even after class is over.

The team spent the school year designing and building an open-wheel, single-seat racecar from scratch, following more than 200 pages of rules pertaining to safety, usable materials and other specifications set forth by Formula SAE -- an intercollegiate engineering design competition organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

After completing the car last week, the team headed to Michigan International Speedway for the Formula SAE Michigan competition running May 8 to 11. The three-day competition pits Northwestern’s car against more than 100 competing schools from around the world. The Northwestern team, founded in 2006, first competed in the 2008 Formula SAE event. This is the second year in a row that the team has completed design and construction of a car in a single school year.

The car must first pass a series of thorough technical inspections before moving on to the dynamic driving competitions. Additionally, the team will present a business case to a prospective manufacturer as well as a detailed manufacturing and cost analysis, in order to demonstrate complete understanding of what it takes to bring a product to market.

To track the team’s progress throughout the competition, follow along on Twitter.

To learn more about the team, visit http://northwesternformularacing.com/.