Engineered for speed


KENNESAW, Ga.  (March 3, 2015) — Build a race car from the ground up. Students of the…

Georgia (Mar 3, 2015)

KENNESAW, Ga.  (March 3, 2015) — Build a race car from the ground up.

Students of the Formula SAE team at the Kennesaw State Marietta campus tackle that challenge each year as they design and build a working race car.

“We design, manufacture, test and compete with our Formula SAE car within a one-year span,” said Alec Blair, president of the student competition team at Kennesaw State. “We designed and built the frame, chassis and suspension in less than three months.”

The student competition team conceptualized the design over the summer and built the frame, so the race car would be ready for more systems to be added in the fall. Students use many tools and labs on campus, such as the 3D printing lab, to design and create the vehicle’s parts, and then spend the following months fine-tuning the various automotive systems.

The team tested out their handiwork on Feb. 28 during the Robert Glenn Allen Invitational, a friendly competition that drew teams from Clemson, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and the University of North Carolina – Charlotte to show off their student-built vehicles.

Named for Robert Glenn Allen, a former faculty member who started the mechatronics program at Southern Polytechnic State University, the third annual invitational encouraged all of the teams to test their cars’ systems for endurance, drivability and acceleration.

“We are one of the smallest Formula SAE teams in the country, with one of the smallest budgets, and we continuously kill it at competitions for the resources we have,” said Sarah Carter, one of the few female students who serve on the Formula SAE team at Kennesaw State.

While the invitational provided networking opportunities with Southeastern teams, SAE International, the professional organization initially known as the Society of Automotive Engineers, holds an international competition in May that draws more than 120 student teams worldwide, said Randy Emert, assistant professor of mechanical engineering technology and faculty advisor to the Formula SAE team. Only about 30 compete in the endurance race.

“It’s a very collegial environment,” said Emert. “Everyone is there to compete and everyone wants to win, but they support each other.” Teams often pool their resources to help the finalists who are desperate to replace broken parts.

In 2014, at Lincoln Airpark in Nebraska, the team placed 17th nationally – and third in the acceleration category – among international teams with $500,000 budgets, Emert said. The team, with its $20,000 budget, ranks in competitions among teams with a lot more money to spend.

Blair, a mechanical engineering technology major, said building the car is more than just gaining engineering experience. He said he is getting experience in areas such as cost and design presentations. Students also learn from team dynamics and how to work with administration.

“We learn far more than just engineering. We learn project management and time management, which preps us for careers,” said Blair. Many Formula SAE alumni head into careers in the automotive industry with companies such as Honda R&D and Elan Motorsports, and many are actually scouted for those jobs before graduation, he added.

While a majority of the students on the Kennesaw State Formula SAE team members are engineering majors, biology and business majors also serve on this year’s team. Open to any student regardless of major, the team will compete as Kennesaw State’s first Formula SAE team at the international competition at the Michigan International Speedway on May 13-16.


- Tiffany Capuano; photo by Anthony Stalcup 



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit