Improving the Michigan Tech Formula SAE Design Process
Michigan Tech Formula SAE is a student-led team that designs and builds an open-wheel race car to compete with similar teams from other universities in early May each year. The team has adopted a vehicle development process where the design, build, and test/compete phases happen in consecutive years. This process is motivated by the need to perform validation testing in the fall prior to competition due to Houghton winters lingering well into April. In order to compete every year, all three phases are always in-process to ensure the consecutive completion vehicles. As a student organization, Formula SAE membership has a two to three year turnover rate. This limited organizational memory results in redesign rather than re-use of parts. Simple parts are easier to re-model than manually search a directory structure for an existing design. This redundant work is wasted effort and is often results in repeating poor design features that had been improved by previous team members.