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Formula SAE Electric Teams Gained Invaluable Knowledge at the First-Ever EV Workshop, Hosted by Tesla

Posted: October 31, 2022

A unique mobility collaboration has college students singing praises for SAE International.

Last month, students from 75 universities gathered in Fremont, California for SAE’s first ever EV Workshop, hosted by Tesla.

“This event provided amazing insight from both SAE and Tesla that was genuinely invaluable. Networking wise, I don’t think I have ever had a better experience,” said Paul Del Vechio, project manager for Rutgers Formula Racing. “The breath of eye-opening information and people that we got to meet was so unique, but in the best way possible. It was amazing; I really loved this event.”

Nearly 300 students took part in several technical sessions on trending EV topics throughout the weekend. These students had the opportunity to hear insights on the different rules and best engineering practices from FSAE judges that students in attendance took back to their team members.

For a lot of the university teams, this is the first year they are adopting the prior internal combustion engine (ICE) design and transforming it into an EV for competition.

“As SAE International shifts Formula SAE Electric to a stand-alone competition in 2023, it was great to have a company like Tesla as our partner for the first ever FSAE EV Workshop,” said Kaley Zundel, Formula SAE program manager at SAE International. “The workshop was designed to provide added educational benefit and networking opportunities for our student competitors, and we are excited as we continue to see the interest grow with new universities.”

Colton McClellan, controls sub-system lead for University of Alberta Formula Racing found the information provided invaluable, citing an example exchange on component issues they didn’t even know could come up as problems.

Having the opportunity to connect with other teams and individuals from SAE provided them a sense of certainty, having no prior experience in EVs.

“There was a lot that we weren’t quite certain about because we’ve never had firsthand experience working with accumulators and the entire assembly,” said Philip Zhu, engineering lead of University of Alberta Formula Racing. “It was really nice hearing the experience of other teams and from SAE themselves on what they’ve seen at competition, at tech inspection and things like that.”

The networking amongst students, Tesla engineers and FSAE employees gave students a greater opportunity to interact than during competition, where so much focus is dedicated to working on their cars. The workshop allowed participants to discuss their shared challenges and collaborate on solutions that are beneficial to everyone—similar to SAE’s model as a neutral convener for solutions to mobility’s toughest issues.

“We got really close to the Princeton team, which is another school in New Jersey while at the workshop,” said Ryan Billings, business lead for Rutgers Formula Racing. “Who knew it would take us to all go to California, a couple thousand miles away, to become friends and close contacts for FSAE with people that are probably 10-15 miles away from us right now?”

And for some, the biggest takeaway of the weekend was reaffirming that they are on the right path as future engineers.

“Being a part of FSAE made me realize that regardless of which engineering industry that I go into, I really just want to be a part of a really great team,” said Erik Robles, electronics lead for Rutgers Formula Racing.

As these FSAE students transition in FSAE alumni, there are an abundance of opportunities waiting for them across the industry, especially at Tesla.

“It really can't be overstated how valuable of a talent pool these students are for Tesla. They come to us with hands-on experience designing and manufacturing an electric vehicle,” said Libby Jones, senior talent partner at Tesla. “They're spending their days problem-solving, adapting, and collaborating - and they're incredibly passionate about their work. You don't have to search too hard among Tesla's top engineers to find some FSAE alumni!”

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