University Students Learn Hands-On Skills for Solving Automotive Engineering Problems

by Mitch Bossart, Industry Writer for GoEngineer

GoEngineer sponsors the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in competing against international university teams

The Formula SAE® Series competitions provide opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to conceive, design, fabricate, and develop short-wheelbase  formula-style vehicles. The challenge is to develop a vehicle that can successfully compete in all the events described within the 175-page FSAE rules document. All teams entering the competition must meet strict requirements pertaining to performance and driver safety.

For example, failure during a technical inspection means a team is not be allowed to operate their vehicle under power, which means they can’t compete against other teams in the dynamic events.

The Rigors of Product Development
“This is the real deal,” says Dave Schaller, Education Manager at GoEngineer. “Formula SAE pulls no punches. University students get to experience the rigors of product development—the successes and failures.” Requirements include vehicle configuration, driver’s cell, minimum material requirements, main and front roll hoops, bracing, safety equipment, fasteners, and much more.

UTD DallasHowever, there are few restrictions on overall vehicle design, so students can express their ingenuity and take innovative approaches to vehicle design. The competition provides an opportunity to demonstrate engineering know-how among similar peers from around the globe.

Managing Time and Partners
Part of building a successful product is meeting tight deadlines, which the students face at multiple junctures in the process. “One of the biggest things we’ve done is make sure to allot plenty of time for our design and manufacturing phases,” says Arye Levi, Chief Engineer, UTD Motorsports. “We spent the better part of a year and a half designing the car and getting that all setup. It’s been a learning process and we’ve been able to get our parts in at a steady rate, and getting our guys trained, and the car is coming together.”

“Dave [Schaller] has been a huge help to us in the whole process. Not only was he there with the Creaform 3D scanning, but he also gave us advice on rules and regulations for the chassis when we were still in the early design phase, and also on the intake manifold printing,” continues Levi. “A lot of the changes for manufacturability were at his recommendation since he knew a lot about materials, and of the specific 3D printing challenges that were involved with them.”

3D Design Optimization
UTD decided to take an innovative approach to designing the manifold. The FSAE rules require that all teams havea single-throttle body inlet and a 20mm restrictor, which is approximately a circle less than an inch in diameter—all the air going to the engine has to pass through that small opening.

“Optimizing air flow through the manifold is really important for power and efficiency,” says Levi. “So we needed to have a smooth geometry that would let the flow coming out of that restrictor be as laminar as possible. We did not want turbulence or other unintended consequences that could further interrupt the flow to our cylinders.”

The team used SOLIDWORKS CAD and Flow Simulation to achieve their desired designs, and they relied on GoEngineer’s Stratasys 3D printer. They used Ultem 9085, a thermal plastic that is both heat resistant and chemical resistant—very important when a component is right next to an engine operating at high temperatures.

If You Build It They Will Come
The competition is just months away and the team is excited to see how they’ll fare against other schools. “I’ve always wanted to go into automotive,” says Levi. “Back in my sophomore year in college, I was in the computer lab just messing around on SolidWorks, designing car parts for fun, when I overheard a group of guys talking about Formula SAE.” That’s how the Formula SAE team got started at the University of Texas at Dallas.

UTD Motorsports started with just five members and has ballooned to over 70 members from various disciplines. Today they have a complete car design and are looking forward to the race in June. “It’s coming together to get this thing ready for competition,” concludes Levi. Both GoEngineer and the students are excited to see what happens at the event.

UTD Dallas



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