In order to carry out the modifications that will make the car eligible for the Formula SAE Competition in June, which the students hope to have completed by the end of March, the team will need a budget of $35,000. The design team currently has between $4,000 and $5,000 in their budget, which was provided by the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
In order to raise funds for the project, the seniors have sent proposals to potential sponsors such as Coca Cola and McDonalds as well as local Hoboken businesses, particularly banks.
"There are a lot of students applying to Stevens with an interest in engineering, many of whom would like to work in the automotive industry," said senior design team member Anthony Nobile. "This is a way to build a relationship between automotive sponsors at the competition and Stevens, which will help future students."
Another senior member of the design team, David Goldstein, added, "Having a car to attract students can act as a practical tool to help attract potential students to Stevens, especially those who are interested in pursuing a career in the automotive field." Goldstein has been interested in working with the car since his freshman year but was unable to be involved because the project was almost exclusively reserved for seniors.
Although Stevens' racecar, which the senior's have nicknamed Duck Speed after the school's mascot "Attila the Duck," lost its last three races, in '94,'02 and '04, it won for the first time in 1981, which was also the first-ever Formula SAE Race held.
In addition to the senior design team, the school's Society of Automotive Engineer's Club [SAE], which is not yet recognized as a student organization by the institute, is also behind the venture and hopes to assist in future fundraising attempts, according to SAE President Sophomore Joshua Guerra.
The reconstruction effort
In order to be able to enter the car into the 2007 Formula SAE Competition, the Stevens' Team must make an array of improvements to bring the car up to the competition's specifications. The first and most massive upgrade will involve redesigning and fabricating an entirely new chassis, which is a car frame, due to the competition's policy of not allowing a racing team to use the same chassis more than twice. The team plans to construct the new chassis out of tubular steel, which, according to the design team, is inexpensive and easy to weld compared to aluminum or carbon fiber, materials that are being used by others schools.
Along with the frame, the team must install brand new front and rear suspensions as well as wheel hubs to fit the new design. The current hubs were taken from a trailer according to Goldstein, before being welded onto the racecar.
The seniors will also have to construct a new fiberglass body to fit the new chassis as well as recalculate the break system, and install a functional clutch, new wheels, and new tires.
The only components that are not being revamped are the differential and the car's engine, which is a 600 cc Suzuki Motorcycle Engine.
The five seniors who will be in charge of completing the project are Anthony Nobile, Frank Battersby, David Goldstein, Hesham Ismail, and Faris Mohd Fauzi.
The seniors have divided the project between the two semesters, designing it during the fall and reconstructing it during the spring depending on the amount of money they receive.
The SAE mini Indy
The competition began in the University of Houston in 1979, where it was labeled the SAE Mini-Indy. After skipping 1980, the race resurfaced in 1981 as the Formula SAE Competition at a track at the University of Austin in Texas, where Stevens won for their first and only time. Since 1981, which saw only four schools compete in the race, the competition has become an international event involving over 120 vehicles in 2006 from colleges and universities around the world.
Cornell University currently leads the competition with nine first place wins, with the University of Arlington coming in second at seven wins.
The 2007 competition will be held at the California Speedway from June 13 to June 16 along a two-mile oval track where they will be observed by representatives from some of the major automotive industries, such as General Motors, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler.
Though the team has not yet determined who will be driving the vehicle if they are able to rebuild it, they plan to bring it out to a track in English Town where they will do a few test runs to determine who is capable of being the driver.
The seniors estimate the car, once completed, will reach speeds between 80 and 90 miles per hour.
Michael Mullins can be reached at email@example.com