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Motorsports Team Breaks into Top 15 at International Contest

Friday, May 27, 2005

 [Jayhawk Motorsports]

Students in the University of Kansas School of Engineering earned their best finish ever at the 2005 Society of Automotive Engineers Formula Car Challenge.

The Jayhawk Motorsports team, which has placed in the top 25 in five of the past seven years, earned 12th place in this year’s competition May 18-22 in Pontiac, Mich. The finish put KU’s team ahead of all others from the Big 12 as well as teams from several highly ranked engineering programs.

"These KU students have done a great job," said Robb Sorem, associate dean of engineering and faculty adviser for the team. "The rigor involved in getting to the competition, and in the competition itself, is demanding. They designed a quality machine and then honed their skills to be top contenders. The 2005 Jayhawk Motorsports team and previous KU teams are consistently among the best in the nation."

The Formula SAE competition requires students to design, build and drive a small formula-style racecar. Only 140 teams are allowed to register for this international event, however not all teams are able to complete their vehicle in time for the competition. The student teams begin their yearlong endeavor with a four-cylinder motorcycle engine and a 109-page rulebook. The resulting competition cars are a blend of the students’ creativity, design and analytical skills and talent in the workshop.

The 480-pound Jayhawk Motorsports car features a Honda F4i engine, a carbon monocoque frame, a carbon fiber body, and a pneumatic shifter. The car is capable of going from 0 to 90 miles per hour in 6 seconds.

At the competition, the student teams and their vehicles are judged in three different categories: static inspection and engineering design, solo performance trials and high-performance track endurance. Student teams also must submit highly detailed design information and make multiple technical presentations during the competition. Students must adhere to extensive safety rules and regulations during the design and construction of their vehicle as well as during its operation in the competition.

The KU team represents one of two schools in the nation to successfully complete every aspect of the event in the last six Formula SAE competitions.

KU’s effort begins anew shortly after the competition ends. Students start work on the design for the next year’s car during the summer months. Seniors in the mechanical engineering degree program have the option of working on the team as part of the capstone design series of courses during the coming academic year. Underclassmen in the program often volunteer to be a part of the team and take on additional leadership roles when they reach the senior level.

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