Bronco Racing, Western Michigan University’s Formula SAE Team, recently finished its most successful competition season to date. The team placed second at the 2016 Grand Prix hosted by Lawrence Technological University, where the University of Toledo edged out the Bronco team by only 0.3 seconds.
The team also attended the Toronto Shootout in late September. It marked the first time that the team competed on the same level as some of the best -- a time split of only two seconds kept the team off the podium. “Our average lap time ranged around 64-65 seconds, and we were pleased with that performance,” said Joe Jagodzinski, suspension team lead for the Formula SAE team and a senior in mechanical engineering.
The team is comprised of about 15 engineering students who design, build, test, and tune a Formula-One style racecar from beginning to end each year.
“We are focused on the balance between ingenuity and quality,” Jagodzinski said. “We are constantly gaining recognition on both a regional and international basis, and that has been exhilarating for all of us.”
“The year ahead should prove to be very exciting for the students, faculty and community involved in Bronco Racing,” Jagodzinski said. “Our goal is to be ranked as a top 20 team nationally after the 2017 season, and from a design perspective, we have never been more suited to achieve that goal. There's only one direction that we can go from here -- up."
Formula SAE competition rules require participating teams to design and manufacture a new vehicle each year. So while the Formula SAE team is racing the vehicle built for the 2016 season, it is also working on another vehicle to compete in 2017 competitions.
Jagodzinski said to achieve greater vehicle performance, each vehicle subsystem design of the 2017 vehicle is undergoing extensive refinement. A new rolling chassis will exhibit heightened handling characteristics, strengthened torsional rigidity, and enhanced driver ergonomics. The power-train system likely will offer greater power than ever before and a new aerodynamics package should optimize performance.
"I am proud of the Formula SAE team's focus on refining the design of the 2016 vehicle and of their efforts to prioritize reliability as much as performance,” said Dr. Claudia Fajardo, the team’s faculty advisor. “We are all looking forward to the Michigan competition next spring."
The team relies heavily on sponsors and donors. “The cost to build a Formula SAE car adds up quickly,” Jagodzinski said. The team hopes to raise $3500 within the next two months. “In order to meet our design goals and stay competitive, we need funding to purchase materials and supplies required to manufacture the vehicle,” he said. “Donations of any amount make a difference and help our students in a project that combines theoretical coursework with practical experience in engineering, business, and project management.”