Formula SAE

Formula SAE is a student design competition organized by SAE International. The competition started in 1980 by the SAE student branch at the University of Texas at Austin after a prior asphalt racing competition proved to be unsustainable. 

Clemson University Formula SAE Team

The concept behind Formula SAE is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a student design team to develop a small Formula-style race car. The prototype is to be evaluated for its potential as a production item. The target marketing group for the race car is the non-professional weekend autocross racer. Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules whose purpose is both ensuring on-track safety (the cars are driven by the students themselves) and promoting clever problem solving. There are combustion and electric divisions of the competition, primarily only differing in their rules for powertrain.

Jack Burns and Vince Roman were design judges for the competition for several years when the competition was held in California. Vince got his start in automotive engineering while a student at UCI in the sister competition "Mini-Baja".

Vince shares: "Back then, when my fellow engineering student Marcos and I learned about the competition, we were excited and formed a team.  At the time, Formula SAE was powered by a 5-hp engine, whereas the Mini-Baja had a whopping big-bore15-hp Briggs and Stratton.  We did not think long before deciding on the Mini Baja - Horsepower-Man!.  You can imagine how jealous I am that the students today can run 600cc sport-bike engines!"

Mini-Baja Team at UCI

"We formed a team, found a faculty sponsor, Dr. Arthur, secured sponsorship funding from Coors (being in a fraternity had its benefits!) and started asking for parts donations.  Months later, we competed at Cal Poly Pomona.  I do not recall how we placed, but we made it all the way through the endurance race!  Our car had full-independent suspension.  The winning cars were solid axles with under-inflated tires.  It was an amazing learning experience!  This is one of the reasons why Burns Stainless is passionate about these programs that encourage the automotive engineers of the future." Vince continues. [ps: that is Vince on the far left]

Clemson U Formula SAE Team EventThe prototype race car is judged in a number of different events categorized as Static Events and Dynamic Events. The points system is such:

Static Events:
Design Event - 150. Cost and Manufacturing Analysis Event - 100. Presentation Event - 75.

Dynamic Events:
Acceleration event - 100, Skidpad Event - 75, Autocross Event - 125, Fuel Economy Event - 100, Endurance Event - 275. Total Points Possible: 1000.

Formula SAE Team at Clemson UniversityBurn Stainless supports several teams with discounted parts including the team at Clemson University. We received this report from William Wei Sponsorship and Recruitment Coordinator at Clemson University's Formula SAE program:

"I wanted to provide an update on our team after our Michigan Competition in May. The car performed very well as the team finished 11th in Design and 39th overall out of 120 teams. Unfortunately, our drive shaft pulled out during our endurance run, and we were unable to finish the event which significantly lowered our score. That being said, the competition was overall a great learning experience and thus a great success for the team. We are very grateful for the tremendous support from our sponsors this past year. Your support has allowed us to make an incredible car that is a showcase of the hard work, dedication, and engineering our team has devoted to make this all possible. We are extremely excited about the future potential of the Tiger 23, and we hope to show it off further at the following future events:"

  • Pittsburgh Shootout (September) 

  • Michelin LPG Shootout (October) 

  • Barnesville Shootout (date TBD)

Clemson making a charge!

"As an update on the team, we recently hosted elections where we elected new leadership for the next year. Below is a list of the tier 1 leadership elected:"

  • Team Lead - Charles Kowalski

  • Chief Engineer - Matthew McDonnell

  • Production Lead - Chase Marlar

  • Finance and Logistics Officer - Chris Holstine

"With this new wave of leadership, we have begun to implement new ideas, team changes, and started the design of our next car, the Tiger 24." 

Clemson student welding

"Thank you for believing in our team, and we are incredibly grateful for your unwavering support. Your support is an investment in not only the team, but the future of Clemson students. Without our sponsors, we would not be able to partake in this journey of educational enrichment which provides a unique opportunity for students at Clemson University to prepare themselves for exceptional professional careers."

Of course here at Burns Stainless we believe that in order to have a viable industry it is important to propel the youth in our industry. We are excited to sponsor and promote young people in motorsports and look forward to seeing more excitement in the coming semesters. Good luck to all the teams out there in FSAE!

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