FAU students race to raise funds

By Josh Stern

Delray Beach Tribune

Last year they finished in the top third at an international stock car competition in Michigan with speeds up to 60 mph.

And now they want to rank even higher with their hand-built formula style racing car.

They need money to do so.

A group of engineering students from Florida Atlantic University hope to raise $15,000 in the next 10 days.

“We’re really desperate for any contribution,” said Guillermo Reyes, a junior multimedia studies major and spokesman for the 12-person Owl Racing Team. “We’re facing deadlines and every penny counts now.”

The students hope to travel to the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., to enter their car in the 2012 Formula Student Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) competition. Held annually in May, the competition challenges universities from across the globe to design, build and race a single-seat racing car with an open cockpit and open wheels in one year.  With those who are familiar with SCCA the car is considered as “Class A Modified”.

The cars are then judged on speed, acceleration, handling and endurance, while the teams are tested on their design, cost and business presentation skills.

The team is considered a student organization and got $7,000 from the university, Reyes said. But that’s not enough.

The university also provides space for the group to build the car.  The students have spent countless hours building and designing the car which started back in Aug 2011. They also spent their entire spring break working hard to meet the deadlines and figuring out what they can do with their limited budget.

Each year the challenge is to produce a faster, lighter and yet durable stock car.

The concept behind Formula SAE is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a design team to develop a small Formula-style race car, according to the Formula SAE website.  The prototype race car 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 to ensure onsite event operations and promote clever problem solving.

In addition to competing in various dynamic track races, such as autocross, endurance and skidpad events, teams also present their engineering design and market the race car to a panel of judges comprised of professional automotive and race-car engineers from around the world.

Design, building components and finally assembling the race car generally takes about nine months but they haven’t been able to do much because of lack of funds, Reyes said. The team sacrificed countless nights and weekends – time they could have spent with their families, friends, or studying – in the effort to create their dream Formula car.

But they say it’s all worth the sacrifice.

“I really enjoy seeing all of the members of this team learn and develop real, hands-on engineering skills,” said team member Daniel Barak, a junior mechanical engineering student from Miami. “Many students go through engineering without seeing real-world applications, but we get to see a design on the computer come to life as we build many handmade parts for our race car.”

The Owls team recently made a presentation to the Rotary Club of Delray Beach-Sunrise, which pledged to support their effort, said C. Ron Allen, a club member and CEO of CRA Media Group, one of the car’s sponsors.

“Designing, building and financing a race car from scratch, with almost no limitations to the design or the shape, can instill creativity in young engineers that will be absolutely crucial to them throughout their careers,” Allen said. “This is a great opportunity for the community to rally around this program.”

For more information or to sponsor the team, visit http://www.OwlsRacing.com or call 305-924-6579.

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About Pedro Heizer

I'm a person of simple taste, all I need is some country music, Batman, Star Wars, sports, coffee, and most importantly Jesus Christ, because what profits a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? View all posts by Pedro Heizer

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