Campus: CSU Northridge -- May 28, 2003

CSUN's Formula Team Places 10th in International Race Car Design Competition

Despite a rainy track, a team of Cal State Northridge engineering students placed 10th in an international competition to design, build and race a formula-style car earlier this month in Pontiac, Mich.

The CSUN team of 22 mechanical and electrical engineering students faced teams representing 140 universities and colleges from around the world in the 2003 Society of Automotive Engineers Formula Competition.

"We're all very excited, this is the highest a team from CSUN has ever placed," said mechanical engineering professor Stewart Prince. "We probably would have done better, but we had to race 20 miles head-to-head in the rain."

The concept of the competition is that a fictional manufacturing firm has engaged a design team, in this case Team CSUN, to produce a prototype car for evaluation as a potential production item. That target market is the nonprofessional "weekend" autocross racer.
Prince said restrictions are placed on the chassis and engine in order to test the students' knowledge, creativity and imagination.

The CSUN students have spent the past nine months conceiving, designing and building a formula-style race car.

Prince said the project employed skills required in an engineering firm, from the design process to the fabrication process, where each step is always taking cost, ease of manufacturing, time and safety into consideration.

"This is not about a bunch of kids going out and racing a car," he said. "It's about giving our students a real test of what they've been learning in the classroom. We're trying to prepare them for the real world."

Prince said CSUN students who take part in the competition usually go on to jobs in the automotive industry. The final test of what the CSUN students' built came at the Formula SAE competition in the Pontiac Silverdome on May 14-18. Teams from universities from North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia all took part. The cars and the teams were rated on everything, from design, cost and acceleration to endurance.

"The FSAE competition is an extremely competitive arena that focuses on ingenuity, optimization of design and attention to detail," Prince said.

Joining Northridge in the top 10 were the University of Wollongong of New South Wales, Australia, which took first place, and the University of Missouri in Columbia, which took second, followed by Michigan State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Auburn University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, North Carolina State University in Raleigh and Cornell University.

The Northridge team was the highest-ranking California team. The next highest was Cal Poly Pomona, which placed 15th followed by the University of Southern California at 19th.
The CSUN team consisted of mechanical engineering students Alain Khella, Jorge Becerra, Freddy Martinez, Rafael Medina, Samuel Senda, Jason Frick, Jerone Powell, Jesus Chavez, John Mason, Roberto Monroy, Tin Bui, Raul Nava, Oscar Gonzalez, Manpreet Behl, Toru Sarumaru, Lorena Silva, Al Noel Sansolis, Grace Lemaire and Gerald Rohwedder and electrical engineering students Iris Rodriguez, Oscar Santos and Adalberto Garcia.

Cal State Northridge's College of Engineering and Computer Science is home to several nationally recognized programs where students gain valuable hands-on experience working alongside faculty members and industry professionals on cutting-edge research.


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