Event Coverage: Formula SAE Lincoln


Thursday’s schedule included all of the static presentations (Cost, Business, and Design), more tech inspections, and the opening of the Skidpad and Acceleration events. The first presentation of the day was Business held just steps up the road at the newly constructed Arnold Elementary School. In Business, the goal is to “sell” the car to prospective investors that will fund the new racing series (the cars are not actually sold). Unlike all of the other competitions, this event relies more on marketing than the car itself. A good team will win the investors over with a good marketing plan, good return on investment, and a low risk sale. A team with a Coleman-style car can take the top spot if they play their cards right. Ten minutes of presentation and five minutes of questioning from the judges determines the scores. For the business presentations, University of Wisconsin (Madison) took the top spot with a perfect score of 75, just edging out University of Texas (Arlington) at 73.1. University of Kansas (Lawrence) took 3rd with 71.9 points. University of California (Berkeley) took 4th also with 71.9 points. University of New Mexico rounded out the top 5 with a score of 71.0. 

University of Wisconsin SAE Car
The car doesn't really matter in Business, but when you're selling this, it's a lot easier to snag a buyer!  Did I mention this particular car has a turbocharged engine, and weighs less than 400 pounds?

Later in the day was the Design presentations. The judges look for proper engineering in the cars. They are not interested so much in what radical features are incorporated in the car (Creativity is worth only 10 points out of the 150), but more so in seeing how each team came up with their final car. If you can defend your engineering decisions with testing (both FEA and real world) and other data, even a simple car can be a winner. To give you an idea of how tough this competition is, the winning team only scored 110 out of 150 points before the scores were normalized. So the best SAE car in Lincoln only scored a 73% or a C if you’re looking for a grade. Damn! The winning team in Lincoln was University of Washington, followed closely by University of Kansas (Lawrence), University of Texas (Arlington), Michigan State, and Missouri University of Science & Tech.


 University of Washington SAE
Washington's cars are always top-notch.  They are also an awesome team to share a hotel with as we learned in California over the last four years.

The last of the static competitions is Cost. Similar to Design, the best teams are able to defend their spending decisions. A good portion of the Cost is the Cost Report, a 300-or-so page book showing the cost of every single part of the car, including labor. Parts that are not listed will cost a team points, as will poor defense of their spending decisions. A cheap car is not necessarily a winner, but a frugally built car is. The University of Michigan (Dearborn) took home 1st prize, followed by the Centro Universitario Da FEI (all the way from Brazil), the University of Alberta, McGill University, and San Jose State.


I cannot find a single picture of Michigan's car.  I did not take any of it and I cannot find a single one online of their Lincoln car.  Instead, enjoy the second place FEI car.

Everybody still awake? Because it’s about to get way more interesting. Time to get these engines running and see what they can do! The basic rules for each Dynamic event are simple: each team can run as many as two drivers in each event and each driver gets two attempts (the only exception being the Enduro). Each cone hit is a 2-second penalty: each off-course is 20 seconds.


Colorado State finishes one of their drag runs. Check out the huge wings! And also check out all the cones, break traction and your run is properly screwed.


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