Published Friday Sep 7, 2018
The Tennessee Tech Motorsports Formula SAE team is headed in a new direction.
This year the Tech Motorsports team has expanded its talent base using the benefit of its “Makers By Design” program that visits with hundreds of high school students throughout Tennessee.
"One of the hardest things to do is start a team from scratch and compete against universities that have $200,000 budgets, hundred-student teams and have been building cars for 20 years,” said Mark Davis, team advisor and academic support associate in civil and environmental engineering. “Our main objective is to mature our student engineers with experience and confidence developing vehicles from the design stage through the manufacturing. Tech has the only Formula SAE team in the state, so we’ve been able to attract from an industry-specific talent pool — students that want to design and build automobiles."
Each July, the Tech Motorsports team evaluates their previous year, including prototype performance, team members leaving to enter the industry, and leadership for the next year, along with reviewing all the data associated with last year’s testing and competition. This process sets the design direction for the next year and also identifies the talent needed for the build.
The “Makers By Design” program has allowed the team to recruit students that are interested in automotive engineering and mature their skills while they are in high school. The visits spark the interest then identifies a path that students should follow that leads to Tech and the Motorsports team. The team interviewed 25 prospective team members through the Makers By Design application process and identified 27 new team members for 2018-2019 FSAE season, bringing the team roster to 38 members.
“This year’s team is diverse and includes civil, electrical, chemical, mechanical and manufacturing engineers, along with math and business majors,” said J.P. Fraley, team design lead. “Each member is trained and cross trained to understand all aspects of the build. Having this strong of a freshman talent pool strengthens our ability to focus on every aspect of the competition and the points each event awards for years to come.”
The Motorsports team competes each year at the Michigan International Speedway against 120 teams from other universities around the world. The competition includes static design, cost and business events along with acceleration, skid pad, autocross and endurance/efficiency events.Tech Motorsports has built the most affordable vehicle in the last four Michigan events.
Tennessee Tech has the only Formula SAE team in the state of Tennessee.