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K&N-Sponsored Cal Poly Pomona Broncos Stampeded to the SAE F1 Competition

The K&N-sponsored Cal Poly Pomona team spent extensive amounts of time testing the chassis

The K&N-sponsored Cal Poly Pomona team spent extensive amounts of time testing the chassis

For twenty-one years California Polytechnic University, Pomona (CPP) has participated in the annual SAE (Society for Automotive Engineers) Formula 1 competition. This year was no different. With teams hailing all the from Boston to Chile, CPP students got the opportunity to put their skills to the test against top schools from around the globe.

CPP's team comes from a range of age groups and fields of study, ranging from 1st-year freshmen students to recent graduates, all of whom have an intimate interest in the automotive craft. While most of the team members are Mechanical Engineering majors, there are a few Business students concentrating in Computer Information Systems and Business Administration as well as Aerospace Engineering majors. These are useful skills as the competition involves more than just building the car, the project must then be “sold” to a group of judges acting as mock “investors” for the teams project, this is where the business skills come in useful, truly a multi-faceted, multi-talented team.

Reliability issues cost the team points in dynamic events and the CPP team placed 30th overall

Reliability issues cost the team points in dynamic events and the CPP team placed 30th overall

Beginning right after last year's competition in Germany, CPP's team spent the better part of the past year working on design concepts and eventual manufacture of their F1 car. The team was quick to begin but the design phase posed a particular challenge. The team was rather new, having lost 20 members the previous year. This was the first time many of the team members had worked on CPP's car as full team members. Nevertheless, they learned how to communicate with each other and cooperate on building a car together. The shared experience will, no doubt, prove pivotal as they prepare for next year's competition.

The CPP team works out the kinks in the F1 chassis before the competition

The CPP team works out the kinks in the F1 chassis before the competition

Once designs were completed and approved, the process of actually building the car began to take place. The build phase progressed very well with sponsors supplying the parts and materials required to make the ambitious design a reality. Over the course of 6 months, the car came together with 85% of the car being made in-house. While the car came along well, there were two performance issues that cropped up during testing. The issues arose in the front hub and front wing. The hubs were a quick fix and were handled immediately, the wing issue turned out to be a bit more vexing. It was dropped from the final design, with the possibility of being reexamined for a future design. It really was a chance for these budding mechanical engineers to gain practical experience in their chosen field. Utilizing programs such as Solidworks, ANSYS, Simulink, and AEM the students were able to apply the lessons they were absorbing in class to a real-life situation.

The Cal Poly Team with the team lead, Professor Stover

The Cal Poly Team with the team lead, Professor Stover

Results from the competition were good considering the relative experience of CPP's team. The team made design finals where they placed well. Reliability issues cost the team points in dynamic events. However, the team ended up in 30th place, overall. While not the result the team had been striving for, the experience was one that no team member would have wanted to miss out on or will ever forget.

The team members took many lessons away from the experience. Along with design changes, they learned to speak up when they had opinions, even if they differed from the group. Differing opinions only serve to strengthen the overall design of the project. They learned to focus more on the fundamentals – the engineer's most valuable tools. The group agreed that the experience was about the best practicum any of them could have experienced at CPP and they know that the experience will aid them in the future for years to come.


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