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Competition ready: LTU students debut SAE vehicles

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published April 20, 2016

 Alex Lessnau, Intelligent Ground vehicle captain, discusses his team project April 12 at LTU.

Alex Lessnau, Intelligent Ground vehicle captain, discusses his team project April 12 at LTU.

Photo by Deb Jacques

SOUTHFIELD — Blue polos flooded the atrium on Lawrence Technological University’s campus as the school’s Blue Devil Motorsports students unveiled their latest racing designs for the SAE Collegiate Design competitions. 

Students from five LTU racing teams unveiled their 2016 competition vehicles 12:30-2 p.m. April 12 at the Buell Management Building on LTU’s campus.

SAE International is a U.S.-based, globally active professional association and standards organization for engineering professionals. It was initially established as the Society of Automotive Engineers.

According to Matt Roush, director of media relations at LTU, students participate in various SAE competition categories, such as Formula, for fast performance in a scaled-down, single-seat racing car; Baja, for off-road racing; Supermileage, for maximum miles per gallon; Formula Hybrid, for combining speed with hybrid efficiency; and Aero Design, for precision design of radio-controlled aircraft. The competitions take place in the spring and summer.

Badih Jawad, department chair of the A. Leon Linton Department of Mechanical Engineering, said the event is a way for students to gear up for competition.

“This is a declaration that we are ready to go to the competition,” Jawad said. “This is part of our senior projects for the mechanical engineering department. (The students) get engaged in it for a year. They sign up for projects. They form the teams and start studying about it. They have one year in which they design, fabricate and test their vehicles and go to competition to compete with others.”

Provost Dr. Maria Vaz took to the stage to congratulate the students and thank the teams’ sponsors.

“I know you have worked very hard. I know we are going to get great results, and if we don’t get great results, the teaching and the lesson is there. So, best wishes. I know you’ll represent Lawrence Tech very well,” Vaz said.

College of Engineering Associate Dean Lewis Frasch was also on hand to wish the students luck.

“I wish you a great amount of fun in competing, and having competed myself, I will go as far as to wish you good luck as well,” Frasch said.

Student Kirill Pavlov, captain of the Aero team, discussed his team’s vehicle at the event.

“We’re the only team that doesn’t put a person inside of our cockpit. We’re the only team that stays up in the air — and belongs in the air — and that has been the best challenge for this university,” Pavlov said. “Our job is to build an airplane that is as light as possible and lifts as much cargo as we can cram into it without crashing.”

Baja team captain Joshua Schwanke said his team’s vehicle will have to endure many different types of terrain during competition.

“When it comes time to go to our competition, we go through a four-hour endurance race, where it’s all about how well they can design this track to break our car. We are put to the test if we can design the most robust vehicle as possible. We are very confident this is going to be one of the best Baja SAE vehicles that has been produced from us for several years,” Schwanke said.

Vaz said LTU President Dr. Virinder Moudgil could not attend the event because he was in China.