Speed Racers

Formula SAE team celebrates 30th anniversary

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For three decades, a group of UT Arlington students has been building race cars. Also unmatched portfolios, unparalleled résumés, and worthwhile careers.

These Mavericks belong to the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers, which asks students from more than 120 universities to conceive, design, build, and race Formula-style cars in international competitions. UT Arlington, which is celebrating 30 years in FSAE, has won a record eight first-place titles in the United States, as well as others in England, Australia, and Japan.

The University has been so dominant that the Sports Car Club of America’s award for best student driver is named the Dr. Bob Woods Cup in honor of the UT Arlington mechanical engineering professor who founded the local team.

The students become involved in a very interesting project and in the meantime develop engineering education, professionalism, and preparation for industry,” Woods says. “But working on a race car is so exciting that it tricks them into all that professional development.”

The excitement is timeless. The cars are not.

The first one, from 1982, resembles a go-kart. The latest is a sleek and silent hybrid—one of the few racing hybrids in the world—that accelerates at 1G, some five times faster than your normal driving. How these cars come together has changed, too. In the early days, they began on a sketch pad, with the next step being flat computer graphics. Today, every nut and bolt is planned in a 3-D drawing.

A.E. Petsche Corp., among others, partners with the program by sponsoring cars and advising students, who join FSAE voluntarily and participate outside class.

I actually learn things working on the race car before I learn them in class,” says Lena Gerry, the FSAE team captain. “That’s because you have to take your own initiative. You have to do your own research. It’s not just taking a piece of metal and putting it together. You develop pride in what you do.”

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