After its self-built race car was built and unveiled on April 10, Husker Motorsports is gearing up for competition in May.
The Formula SAE competition consists of five dynamic events: acceleration, skidpad, autocross, endurance, and fuel efficiency. The results of these events are then added up to create a total possible score of 1,000.
Ziad Nass, one of two students who drives the car during the competition, said that ideal times in the competition events are hard to gauge accurately.
“Ideally we want to realize and replicate the times we simulated in the design portion of the season,” Nass said. “Ideally, we also want to win. However, in reality, conditions are almost always less than optimal, which means nobody is running the fastest times ever seen or the best simulated.”
The first event is acceleration, a 240-foot, straight-line test. The car starts at a stop and then accelerates as quick as possible.
The consensus between Nass and other team members is to aim for four seconds, the time most competitive teams will reach.
The next event is skidpad, where the car is maneuvered through a figure-eight-like course. The driver completes two laps to the right around one of the halves and then switches to the other half and drives to the left.
Adam Johnson, the lead engineer for Husker Motorsports and the second driver, said that this is testing the lateral acceleration of the car– essentially, how well it can turn.
“A competitive team will range anywhere in the 4.8 to the 5.2-second range because the average of two laps for each direction is averaged,” Johnson said.
Autocross is a cone outlined course laid out on a flat area. The competitor starts at the entry point and completes the entire track in the most efficient manner. Each team has two drivers, each driver getting two attempts to shave seconds off of their final time.
“Running competitively in autocross is important, and we will be blind to both the autocross and endurance course [before the event], so making sure that Adam and I are doing all that we can do maximize ourselves as drivers is going to be really crucial in those events as well,” Nass said.
The endurance event is very similar to autocross. It is run on the same track, but drivers compete in a 26-kilometer race instead of only one lap. Because the track is about a kilometer long, this works out to 26 laps total. It is a relay race, where one driver completes the first 13 laps, and then as quick as they can, switches to the second driver.
In addition to the four main events, there is also an efficiency test, where the competition judges measure the amount of gas in a full tank and then measure the amount left after an event. This calculates the efficiency of the race car.
Each event has a point system. Acceleration has a total of 75 points available, skidpad has 100, autocross has 100, and endurance has 150. The efficiency test is then out of 50 points.
In addition to the five dynamic events, there is also a design aspect to the competition. Johnson said that top professionals from companies like Tesla, SpaceX, and Ford will come in and score the team’s car.
Getting a good score for the design portion is important because it is also added to a team’s final score, allowing for an additional 30 points.
Once the competition is over, many of the members will move on to jobs, internships, or work studies in relation to their field.
High placing in the competition can increase the likelihood of two things: awareness from the top automotive companies in attendance at the competition and an incredibly unique experience to talk to future employers about.
Creighton Hughes, the project manager of the team, said he believes that being a part of the club is very beneficial to his future.
“Employers love seeing it on a resume because they know you have experience with the entirety of the engineering design process,” Hughes said. “You can discuss your mistakes and what you learned working on a huge project.”
Johnson estimates that the club has a 98% job placement rate. The other 2% consists of a student pursuing further schooling.
For now, the team members don’t even have the time to worry about the future. For the next couple weeks, they are devoted solely to their race car and making sure it is in prime condition.