April 25, 2011

Twelve hours a day. That’s how long team captain, senior Benjamin Pejsach, devotes to his most recent project, designing and building an entire race car.

The race car will double as Pejsach and his team’s mechanical engineering (ME) Capstone Design project, as well as the LSU Tiger Racing team’s 2011 entry in the Formula SAE Racing competition, an international student design competition organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Students must build a small formula-style race car that will be judged on various criteria, including design, cost, presentation, skidpad (cornering), acceleration, autocross, fuel economy and endurance. 

For these car enthusiasts, building a race car from scratch was very appealing. The project allows them to combine their two passions: cars and engineering. In addition to putting principles learned in the classroom into practice, the team is also gaining a greater appreciation for marketing and business. The students had to attract sponsors, raise money and promote their project by themselves.

“This involves every side of a project, and it’s all done by engineers,” said teammate Jerrad Rolon, a native of Carencro, La. “It’s really good exposure to a general type of project, where you have to figure out a budget, do your own public relations, plus the actual engineering.”

The process of designing and building an original race car requires is an enormous undertaking. The team is composed of five ME seniors, four electrical engineering (EE) seniors, two ME graduate students and eight ME underclassmen. The students began fundraising last January and have continued to work on the design and fabrication since then. The actual race car is a single-seater, about 8 feet long and will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds.

In May, the team will compete against more than 100 teams at the international competition in Brooklyn, Mich. While the competition challenges students’ creativity, resourcefulness and engineering skills, the senior ME students are simply excited to produce something to which they’ve devoted so much time and energy.

“I want to look back after this and say, ‘I really did that,’ ” said Pejsach.  

Senior group members, for whom the project is a Capstone Design project, include the following ME students: Benjamin Pejsach (Kenner, La.), Jerrad Rolon, Colin Kappe (Covington, La.), Timothy McMinn (Lafayette, La.) and Jeffrey Ortego (Baton Rouge, La.); and the following EE students: Nolon Cavalier (Plaquemine, La.), Shravan Kilaru (Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India), Irfan Thakur (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) and Duong Vu (Morgan City, La.).

The Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) will host the ME 4202 Capstone Design annual seminar presentation May 4-5 in the Frank Walk Design Presentation Room, 140 ELAB. ME undergraduates worked throughout two semesters on a design project of their choice. Projects are judged by a design panel consisting of local industry leaders and LSU faculty and alumni.

All ME faculty members, project sponsors, faculty advisors, alumni, graduate students, ME undergraduates and the general public are invited to this event each year. To obtain information for next year’s event, submit an area for research, or to become a judge or sponsor, please contact Larry Dufour at ldufour@lsu.edu or Dimitris Nikitopoulos at medimi@lsu.edu. 

For more information about the Formula SAE team, visit http://tigerracing.lsu.edu/.

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