Skip To Nav

Site-specific menu

Share |

WMU preps Formula SAE car for MIS competition

by Cheryl Roland

May 6, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of WMU's 2009 Formula SAE car.
WMU's 2009 Formula SAE car
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University engineering students will head to the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., next week to compete in one of the nation's most prestigious collegiate automotive design events.

A team of 18 student members of WMUs Society of Automotive Engineers chapter will take their newly completed Formula car to the 2011 Formula SAE Series competition that will be held at MIS May 11-14. The event is expected to attract more than 100 collegiate engineering teams and some 2,000 students.

Formula SAE is an educational competition that challenges university undergraduate and graduate engineering students to design, build and compete in scaled-down, Formula-style autocross race cars. The only other U.S. competition of this magnitude in 2011 will be held by Formula SAE in California in June. At MIS, the WMU team will compete against teams from as far away as Japan, Germany and India. The team with the best overall package in vehicle design, cost management, sales presentation and on-track performance will win the competition.

For the event, the teams are asked to assume that a manufacturing firm has engaged them to produce a prototype car for evaluation as a production item. The intended sales market is the non-professional weekend autocross enthusiast, so the car must have high performance in terms of its acceleration, braking and handling qualities. The car must be low in cost, easy to maintain and reliable. In addition, the car's marketability is enhanced by such additional factors as aesthetics, comfort and use of common parts.

Over the course of a three-day competition, a jury of experts from the motorsport, automotive and supplier industries will judge the design, cost and business planning of all the teams to determine the best team and vehicle. In addition teams' on-track performance scores will demonstrate how well the vehicles hold up under real life conditions.

This is the fifth time since 2003 WMU has fielded an entry in the Formula SAE series. The WMU SAE chapter also participates in a Baja Collegiate Design series and in the exhibit competition at SAE's International Congress. For four consecutive years, the WMU team has placed in the top three in the exhibit competition. In 2009, the WMU Chapter was named the outstanding collegiate chapter in its class by SAE International.

WMU Team members

For more information, contact Anita Ludwig, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, at or (269) 276-3251.