As traditions dictates, on September 21st the Cullen College of Engineering held its Beginning of Semester (BOS) Party, an open event where students and professors alike can spend a fun afternoon at the lawn in front of the engineering building. If you were present that day, you probably noticed the numerous student organizations, the mechanical bull, people playing giant jenga or frisbee, professors getting pie thrown at them, or the formula style race car elegantly parked in front of the building. And yes, it was truly parked elegantly. If you were not present, I’m sorry to say you missed out, and hope to see you there next semester!
However, let’s cut to the chase: if you’re reading this, that aforementioned race car surely called your attention. And you probably came up and spoke with the nice people standing by it and asked a few questions such as “What’s up with this car?” Or “How much is it? Can I put the helmet on and take a picture?” And we probably gave you the helmet, let you get in and took the picture for you. But this wasn’t all for fun (part of it was) this was done because we are the Formula SAE Team at the University of Houston and we need people like you to succeed at the competition.
We could probably talk for hours on end about the intricacies of the competition, but this blog post’s purpose is to answer some of the questions many of you had on that fine day. Simply put, Formula SAE (as in Society of Automotive Engineers) is a premier engineering competition in which students from all over the world compete to design a formula style race car. It’s a competition that requires large amounts of work and people from all walks of life. It combines engineering, marketing, design skills, business and finance, and makes the student organization run as a fictional engineering firm tasked with delivering the best race car possible. The one you’re probably looking at is our second vehicle and we’re currently working on the third.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably sure about joining us. However, here are answers to other questions you may have in mind:
Can anyone join?
Yes! There are no preconceptions regarding who can join. If anything, the only requirement is love for creating things, the want to help out with working towards a bigger goal, and advancing the academic status of UH. Head over to the new member site for information about joining.
What are the requirements?
As mentioned before, none. There are positions for people of all majors and ages, remember the competition (and running the organization) go beyond building the car.
When is the competition?
June 20 - 23, 2018. Competition will be held in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Who takes care of specific part?
In total, we have four teams: chassis, machine-man interface, power, and suspension. All of these main teams take care of specific systems and parts. Normally, you’d join FSAE and pick a team to work with depending on your interests or experience. We also have people rotate between teams to get a feel of everything. You can find contact info for Team Leaders at our website. Feel free to ask questions to better decide what team is for you.
I’m not in Engineering, can I still join?
No problem! As a “company,” we need people good at marketing, sponsorship procurement, logistics, physical/digital media and more. FSAE is about so much more than just the vehicle and while some of us may be good with numbers, some others are better with art or fundraising.
What’s the benefit of working on this?
We’re very proud to be one of the few organizations on campus to put out tangible results on a yearly basis. As many of our members jokingly say, “our resume is a race car.” FSAE UH is an organization that helps people get technical experience, but also develop their leadership skills. You will be participating in a project where dozens of people put in their time to work towards a common goal, within specified deadlines, and following industry regulations. The experience truly goes further than what you’re used to in class or other clubs.
How do you pick a driver?
We ask for two things: good driving skills and being an active member of the organization. FSAE UH has partnered with MSR Houston to run a yearly event where we drive go karts at their race track. Those with better timings and better handling are usually picked to drive our car.
Do you make everything yourselves?
To a certain extent, yes. Of course we don’t smelt ore, but all of the primary systems are designed and built from our own efforts. Our sponsors help providing with materials and also assist us when we need specially machined parts.
Where do you work?
FSAE UH has a shop space in ERP Building 7, where our previous vehicles are kept together with our tools and materials.
- Ricardo Useche