Tires sat melting on the hot pavement of the Adams Raceway in October, drivers sitting in anticipation for the green start signal. Schools throughout California entered their formula race cars to compete, many with thousands of hours logged into their car.
California Baptist University’s formula Society of Auto- motive Engineers — like many other student chapters — was anxious to see how their car would fare.
As different cars with wide-ranging constructions competed, watching their creations speed and swerve inches away from disaster, the results at the end of the event showed that, using last year’s car, CBU placed with schools such as University of California Los Angeles and California State University Northridge.
This is a remarkable success among schools with three times as many students and years of experience, especially since the team first entered its car in 2017.
Dr. Daniel Clark, associate professor of aerospace, industrial and mechanical engineering, leads CBU’s chapter of SAE. Since the start of the program in 2014, it has allowed for engineers, designers and artists to collaborate in the development of the Gordon and Jill Bourns College of Engineering’s Formula SAE car — completely from scratch.
“Having worked in the industry, I am continuously impressed with the caliber of the student design work on this,” Clark said.
Regulations prohibit faculty and non-students from working on the car, so every part of the vehicle is assembled completely by students volunteering their time. Successes — and failures — fall largely on the students who have contributed thou- sands of hours to perfecting the CBU race car.
On one occasion, Clark recalled how giving his recommendation to put a thread locker on a specific bolt caused damage.
“This caused the throttle to stick open, wreaking havoc in the main event of the competition,” Clark said.
With setbacks, the team has learned, more opportunities are presented to improve the vehicle for the next competition.
Noah Thompson, sophomore mechanical engineering major, is actively involved with the club. He said even though students put together all the pieces, the help of sponsors and advisers plays a critical role in bringing creative problem-solving to the team. He said the program’s successes speak for themselves and that their per- formance is a testament to the dedication the team has to its car.
With the modeling, construction and detailed planning required for the car, there are always ways to improve.
“We hope to continue our trend of improvement this year and build the best car we can,” Thompson said.
And while the program may seem daunting to newcomers, the team always welcomes new members. Kevin Zelaya, sophomore mechanical engineering major, who is new to the team, said the collaboration between everyone makes it possible to learn and contribute. Zelaya said the welcoming atmosphere makes the engineering design a process anyone can join.
For the upcoming 2020 race, CBU’s formula SAE team hopes their time and dedication propels them across the finish line — this time ahead of all the competition.