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SAE program at UT Arlington turns 30

Thursday, November 3, 2011

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ARLINGTON — The renowned Formula Society of Automotive Engineers program at The University of Texas at Arlington is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a reunion and showcase of its race cars at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, in the Nedderman Hall atrium.

Formula SAE, a student organization within the College of Engineering’s Mechanical Engineering program, allows students to conceive, design, build and race small but powerful formula-style race cars. The students also sell sponsorships and form partnerships with leading engineering companies, which allows them to race in competitions worldwide.

Formula SAE is sanctioned by the Society of Automotive Engineers and is on the campuses of more than 140 universities worldwide. UT Arlington has been so successful in FSAE racing (with a record eight first-place finishes) that the trophy awarded to the top student driver internationally is named for UT Arlington professor Robert L. Woods. Professor Woods has also written a history of the program that will be available at the banquet.

At least 20 of UT Arlington’s 30 race cars will be displayed at the reunion. The first, from 1981, is similar to a go-kart. The most recent is a silent and sleek hybrid racer—one of a few in the world—that accelerates four times faster than a typical street car. UT Arlington is one of the few universities in FSAE that keeps its cars, rather than scrapping them to build new vehicles. Under FSAE rules, a car may be used for only one year.

“Obviously, the technology of the cars has changed immensely in 30 years,” Woods said. “In the early days, we made hand drawings and then would go make the car. Then we moved to 2-D on the computer. And now, every nut and bolt on the car is drawn in 3-D before we build the car. We’ve advanced the technology in terms of aerodynamics, suspension, handling, etc. Some of the early cars seem barbaric now.”

Alumni and current students of UT Arlington’s FSAE program, as well as sponsors, will be at the reunion. Many program graduates go on to work at major engineering firms, including Peterbilt Motors Company, Bell Helicopter, Williams-Pyro and more. Longtime community and industry supporters include Peterbilt, Sawyer Composite, A.E. Petsche Corporation and Halliburton.

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of 33,421 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit to learn more.


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