Campus: CSU, Long Beach -- May 07, 2001

First-Year Team from Cal State Long Beach Hoping It Has the Right Formula for Indy Competition

Tucked away in an Engineering Technology workshop, a group of Cal State Long Beach students has worked diligently day and night for months, creating from scratch the vehicle it will enter in the 2001 Formula Student Association of Engineers Indy competition.

The event, the largest SAE competition with 125 schools from all over the world scheduled to attend, takes place May 16-20 at the Silverdome in Detroit, Mich.

"As a first-year team it's been a battle for us in many ways," says Justin Cileo, a junior mechanical engineering student heading up the group. "It's been hard to recruit people to work on this without a first car to show them. We do, however, have a core group of individuals that are very involved in the design and manufacturing."

The first-year group has a lot of obstacles to over come, many of them financial. They believe those barriers will ease after the CSULB's initial year of competition.

"Next year when we have something to show we will be able to get more outside support and more interest from individuals wanting to work on the project," says a confident Cileo. "The outside money is the hardest thing to get. We've gotten excellent support from industry in parts and materials. Caltime Metals has provided the tubing for both ours and the Mini Baja cars, free, 100 percent."

So, with or without outside support, the group has steadfastly moved the project forward, sometimes working on it from the early morning hours to well past midnight. Don't ask where they spent their spring vacation. That much-needed break from school allowed them to accelerate the "catch up" phase of their project. The effort has been well worth it, according to Cileo.

"We have learned so much on this project in the last eight or nine months it has blown my mind," says Cileo. "I have read four or five books, including outside of class about design and techniques. I by myself have sat down and learned modeling programs and computer programs and we're learning analysis. It's amazing. My head is just overwhelmed. I'm loving it and it's incredible."

While the (off road) Mini Baja race car team at CSULB has been in existence for a number of years, the idea to compete in the Formula SAE road race was conceived just last spring. It wasn't until the summer of 2000 the decision was made to move ahead with the project.
"We didn't get started building it until late last fall because of money issues," says Robin Miller, the other main team leader. "We needed money before we could actually begin. We've been fortunate though, because the majority of the parts, if they are not donated we have gotten an awesome deal."

Working with a 610 cc, 4-cycle a piston engine, the group does have intake restrictions limiting the power they can produce, but they will still be able to achieve between 70 and 80 horsepower.

"We'll have a car that does zero to 60 in just over three seconds with top speeds of 70-80 miles per hour," says Cileo, "but that's because or the course restraints. If we were on a difference course, this car would have the ability to do over 100 miles per hour. But because of the competition we are in, we have it geared for top speeds of 70-80 miles an hour, with really quick acceleration."

In addition to the actual competition, the main objective of SAE is to have competitors create car that can be designed and produced for less that $30,000 retail. The vehicle needs to be able to sell to multiple buyers at an economical price, be able to perform well, and will be easy and affordable to maintain.

Each team is required to create a manufacturing process, kind of a virtual factory, that maps out an assembly line and put it all together and present why and how the car was built and how four vehicles can be produced per day for an undetermined number of days.

"You want to build it for less that $30,000," says Miller. "If you can build a high performance car for a lot less money, it looks better to prospective panel."

The team plans to run the car hard at least twice before it heads to Michigan. That way, if something needs to be fixed or adjusted, it can be done before the competition.

"We don't expect any problems, but you have to anticipate them," says Miller. "I'm very excited. I think it's going to do really well. Anything that would break would be easily fixable. The idea of racing is to make it as light as you can without overbuilding it and making it too strong. Hopefully we didn't make it too light."

"Our goal is to be the number one, first-year school," says Cileo. "There are university's working with budgets between $50-60,000 with 50-60 people working on it as part of a class project. They have huge teams and histories that go back 25 years in the competition so we are up against some pretty good, experience competition."

In addition to Cileo and Miller, the remainder of the team is sophomores Timothy Dalton, Brian Schoepfer, Khoa Ton That, Dillon Sandoval, Ricky Torres and juniors Oladele Adajare, Brett Felsher, Eddie Anderson, and Kirt Dyess. All are mechanical engineering majors except Anderson, who is majoring in electrical engineering.

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