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Formula SAE team keeps busy engaging with the community this fall

October 16, 2019 - By Kim Delker

The University of New Mexico’s Formula SAE LOBOmotorsports team has been busy so far this semester, not only beginning the design and build process on the 2020 car, but engaging with the community and promoting their program.

John Russell, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the program, said it is vital that FSAE engage with the public for a variety of reasons.

“In addition to designing and engineering a car, our students are also charged with fundraising for the program, as well as marketing and developing a business plan, so participating in community events is great way to give students experience in these areas,” Russell said. “When we bring the car to the public, it has a way of engaging with them a new level and is a perfect way to demonstrate engineering in action, hopefully attracting new future engineers.”

On Sept. 28, FSAE was busy with three events for the community: the School of Engineering Open House for prospective students; the jointly-sponsored UNM/Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Autocross Meet, and SOMOS ABQ in downtown Albuquerque.

Provost James Paul Holloway

At the Open House, prospective students and their families toured the FSAE shop in the Mechanical Engineering Building, where they could ask questions from team members. Provost James Paul Holloway even stopped by to check it out.

At SOMOS ABQ, the FSAE 2020 team brought out the 2018 internal combustion vehicle to show the amount of art that is put into designing and building a race car. The exhibit attracted many people, both children and adults, who had a lot of questions about how the cars are built and how to get involved, Russell said. Alumni from the program also stopped by to see how far the program has come.

The third event that day was the UNM/SCCA Autocross Meet, which holds meetings with the help of LOBOmotorsports. The meeting, held at the UNM G parking lot, is open to the public and brought drivers from around New Mexico to compete against the 2019 FSAE internal combustion vehicle using their own personal vehicles, from everyday cars to more exotic ones. Andrei Fratien, a member of the 2020 FSAE team, scored the best raw time, and Shannon Siderius, department administrator for mechanical engineering, placed first in her class of "Street A.”

LOBOmotorsports also hosted Mission Avenue Elementary School this semester. The students had a chance to tour the FSAE shop, inspiring future engineers.

UNM’s FSAE team has a long history working with local schools. Each spring for the last decade, the team has worked with fifth-graders at Monte Vista Elementary School in Albuquerque each spring as part of the "A World in Motion" program, funded by the SAE Foundation. The goal of the national program is to bring the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math to life in K-12 classrooms.

Future events for the team include a Nov. 3 UNM/SCCA Autocross Meet at G lot. The event begins at 10 a.m., and the public is invited to attend. Also, there will be a sponsors’ driving day on Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the UNM G parking lot. The invitation-only event will give supporters a chance to get behind the wheel of the car on the practice track.

The FSAE program relies heavily upon donations. Funds are established for both the internal combustion engine car program as well as the electric car.