Aussie team defends collegiate engineering championship at Formula SAE® design event

Troy, MI, April 21, 2004 - For more than 20 years, the Formula SAE collegiate engineering design competition has grown and flourished into a truly international event. Until last year, however, one thing was a constant: The trophy always went to an American team. Canadian and European teams had seen strong performances and top five finishes with regularity, but American schools always prevailed. That all changed in 2003 when the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia crashed the party and walked away with the coveted Foundation Cup.

For 2004, a capacity crowd of 140 teams will meet in the massive Pontiac Silverdome parking lot May 19 - 22 to see who can put the fastest, quickest, best handling, best planned, and best designed open wheel racer out on the track.

Since 1981, Formula SAE has challenged collegiate engineering students to design, fabricate, and compete with small formula-style race cars. Restrictions are placed on the car frame and engine so the students' knowledge, creativity, and imagination are tested. Four cycle engines up to 610cc can be turbocharged or supercharged to add a new dimension to the challenge of engine design. The vehicles are judged in three different categories: static inspection and engineering design, solo performance trails, and high-performance track endurance.

The objective of Formula SAE is to give college engineering students real-world, practical problem solving experience in a competitive environment. Many Formula SAE alumni claim this experience made them better practitioners and often gave them a leg up in landing a job.

Formula SAE has had two dominant teams in its history. The University of Texas at Arlington won the event eight times, with their last triumph coming in 1996. Cornell University has been the modern dynasty, with seven wins between 1988 and 2002.

A win from an overseas competitor is not a surprise to SAE Manager of Collegiate Design Programs Bob Sechler. “There is a lot of engineering talent around the world, and interest in motorsports is everywhere. We have had some strong teams from the U.K. that could have won the event, and I believe Europe, Asia and, of course, Australia will continue to field strong teams. These kids share their information via the Internet, and they pull for each other to keep raising the bar on performance.”

The Formula SAE competition is free to attend, but has limited seating and amenities for spectators. The complete schedule of activities can be viewed at http://www.sae.org/students/fsaeeventinfo.htm

Media Contact: Steve Yaeger, SAE Public Relations - (724) 772-4068