Cornell University Beats 130 Teams and the Weather to Take Eighth Formula SAE® Competition Title

Pontiac, MI (June 1, 2004) - Like the steady drumbeat of raindrops on the Silverdome pavement, the preparation and precision of Cornell University's Formula SAE® team rolled onward to once again make a Herculean task look easy. In winning its unprecedented eighth Formula SAE title, Cornell continues to be a benchmark of success for the annual engineering competition.

"If people only realized how truly difficult designing, testing and building one of these cars was - let alone winning one Formula SAE event, they would begin to understand what a special program Cornell has going," said Bob Sechler, manager of education relations for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), which has run the event since its inception in 1981. "Our rules allow for a lot of creativity, and that creates a lot of choices and decision points for these students. It can be pretty overwhelming for teams, but we believe in the end it creates better engineers, no matter where they finish."

The 2004 event once again attracted the maximum 140 teams from 12 countries on five continents to travel to Pontiac for a chance to win the coveted Foundation Cup, fittingly presented in recognition of former SAE president, longtime Formula SAE supporter and Cornell graduate Neil Schilke. A record 130 teams recorded scores this year, making the incessant hit and run thunderstorms even more of a logistical nightmare for Formula SAE organizers and volunteers. All events were run and scored, but the inevitable result was variable track conditions for the autocross and endurance events.

Runner up Texas A&M turned in its third top five finish in five years. Auburn, Missouri-Rolla, Washington, Penn State, Akron, Dartmouth, and Ohio State rounded out the top ten. This marks the first time since 1999 that the entire top ten did not include a team from outside the U.S. Last year's champions from the University of Wollongong in Australia placed eleventh. This year saw Penn State's first top ten finish, and the best-ever showing for Auburn and Washington.

Sechler is quick to note this is not a trend. "There were so many strong teams from Canada and overseas that with a break here or there would have been top ten or even top five material. The Japanese teams are really coming on and both of the Australian teams had extremely impressive and fast cars that presented a strong challenge to the field. The German Technical University of Straslund placed twentieth. Nobody in the U.S. or elsewhere is going to rest on their 2004 results for long."

Cornell University takes unprecedented eighth Formula SAE® title

The University of Texas at Arlington (UT-A), Illinois, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina State University were among those teams that had potential top ten performances wiped out by mechanical glitches in the endurance event. For a complete list of results, see the Formula SAE website page at

The University of Western Australia easily took top newcomer honors by finishing thirteenth overall and impressing the judges and other teams alike with some outstanding design. Western Australia won the judged design phase, the ArvinMeritor Suspension Systems award, Altair William Adam Engineering award and the Carroll Smith Memorial Award in its first trip to Pontiac.

Carroll Smith was an accomplished motorsports author and chief judge of the Formula SAE event for more than a decade prior to his death in 2003. Many of the teams in Pontiac this year had Smith tribute decals on their cars in recognition of his seminal role in raising the bar of competition for Formula SAE throughout the 1990s. Smith loved to see the execution of unique solutions to racing design challenges, and he was considered a mentor by many of the students and advisors affiliated with the event.

Formula SAE is widely recognized as the global championship of college engineering. For the eleventh consecutive year, Formula SAE was sponsored by a consortium made up of manufacturers DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors. Their support, along with the support of hundreds of volunteers from their companies and other top automotive organizations has enabled Formula SAE to expand and flourish during that time.

Individual category award winners for the Formula SAE® 2004 event:
Overall winners: Cornell University
Cost event winners: Concordia University
Best presentation: Michigan State University
Best engineering design: University of Western Australia
Acceleration event winners: Cornell University
Skid Pad event winners: University of Wisconsin
Autocross event winners: University of Missouri - Rolla
Endurance/Economy event winners: Cornell University
Road & Track magazine Triathalon winners: Texas A&M University
Rookie Team Award: University of Western Australia

For more information about Formula SAE® and other student design competitions, log on to our website at, or contact Steve Daum in SAE Education Relations at 724/772-8535, or e-mail him at