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OSU students win Formula SAE racing

By David Stauth
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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OSU Car
A unique international partnership helped the Global Formula Racing team from Oregon State University (OSU) to complete the most successful season in its history – one that simply dominated hundreds of universities in the U.S. and Europe that had far more tradition and long-standing support in this collegiate car racing competition.

OSU and its collaborator, students from Duale Hochschule Baden Wurttemberg-Ravensburg in Germany, won three of the six competitions they entered, including the U.S. national championship.

They had extraordinary margins of victory in several competitions, and also had 25 first place finishes in various competition events, such as engineering design, business presentation, endurance and others. The team competed in Michigan, California, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and Italy.

“This is by far the largest and most prestigious collegiate engineering competition in the world,” said Robert Paasch, OSU Boeing Professor of Mechanical Engineering and team adviser. “There are over 450 universities around the world that support teams, and this year our Global Formula Racing team was simply the best of the best.”

Paasch noted that “there are thousands of student engineers and automotive industry people in Europe whose sole impressions of OSU are based on the performance of our racing team.”

The team accomplishments have already gotten notice from others. Many companies in both the U.S. and Europe are now considering sponsoring the team and recruiting students who worked on it, Paasch said.

“We really liked your concept of sharing the concept, the design and the construction between two universities,” said Andrea Roso, one of the judges of the competition in Italy, and head of research and development with the Italian racing car manufacturer Dallara, in a message to the team.

OSU winning team
“Right after the endurance event here, I met with some representatives of your team and asked them to send me some CVs for young engineers potentially interested in working in our organization,” Roso said. “Congratulations for the fantastic victory.”

One of the team’s most impressive victories was the U.S. national championship last May in Michigan, the traditional home of the nation’s automobile industry. The OSU score at that event was the highest since 2004, including seven first place finishes in various event categories.

The 105 competing teams competing there included the University of Stuttgart and the Technical University of Munich, two of the most highly regarded automotive engineering programs in the world – as well as some of the major U.S. universities most closely associated with automotive engineering, such as the University of Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Competitors from Japan, China, and Korea also attended.

In Formula SAE racing, small, student-built cars are judged on many factors, ranging from speed and endurance to body design, business presentations, acceleration and cost analysis. The diverse range of skills involved to win a competition helps prepare students well for jobs in modern industry that require an understanding of engineering, manufacturing and business concepts.

The OSU approach of doing design, manufacturing and testing in partnership with a German university also added elements of international teamwork and distributed global design and manufacturing to the process. The end result, OSU educators say, are students who not only have strong engineering skills but are also accustomed to working in multiple areas of expertise with collaborators from around the world.

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