The world becomes a blur as the car picks up speed.

The world becomes a blur as the car picks up speed.

An interdisciplinary student team took home three first-place honors for its high-performance race car at the Formula SAE Collegiate Design Series May 14-17 at Michigan International Speedway.

Lafayette competed against 120 teams from colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad, including Brown, Duke, Cornell, Georgia Tech, Lehigh, Penn State, Purdue, Rochester Institute of Technology, U.S. Naval Academy, and Virginia Tech.

The team received the Ford Fuel Economy Award for the highest score of 100 in fuel efficiency, the FEV Power Train Development Award for being judged the best in power train design, and the Altair Engineering’s William R. Adam Engineering Award for development of new and innovative design concepts. Mechanical engineering major Matt Kramer ’14 (Milford, Conn.), the designer of the system, accepted the Altair award.

Lafayette’s project is offered through its IDEAL Center (Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership), which brings together engineering and liberal arts students to work on innovative solutions to real-world issues.

The project is truly an multidisciplinary exercise in entrepreneurship, says team adviser Scott Hummel, professor of mechanical engineering and Jeffers Director of Engineering. The premise is to create a business plan and design and build a prototype for a start-up company that is going to sell 1,000 cars a year to weekend enthusiasts. Engineers can’t do that alone.

View more images of the project on Flickr

Watch a video of last year’s vehicle:

“Economics majors are primarily responsible for the business model and film and media studies majors can document the process, but each team member has input into all aspects of the project,” says mechanical engineering major Greg Dickinson ’14 (Malvern, Pa.), who designed the car’s chassis. “We not only benefit from each other’s expertise, but also learn different things from each other because our backgrounds and perspectives are different.”

Mitch McNutt ’15 (Madison, Wis.),  who is pursuing a dual degree in mathematics and economics, created a business model and cost report documenting every part of the car down to the nuts and bolts.

Driver Ryan Wetherhold ’14 is ready for another lap.

Driver Ryan Wetherhold ’14 is ready for another lap.

Having grown up around classic cars, motorcycles, and racing, mechanical engineering major Matt Tindall ’14 (Hightstown, N.J.) was a natural choice as technical leader. Through the College’s Jeffrey B. Havens Memorial Award, he and team manager Matt Cassera ’14 (Millstone, N.J.), a mechanical engineering major, attended last year’s Formula SAE series race in Lincoln, Neb., and took part in the OptimumG Vehicle Dynamics Seminar. They have applied what they learned about suspension design and analysis during the three-day course.

Instead of using design ideas from past models, this year’s team started from scratch and developed the second generation race car. Lessons from the previous car were used to guide decision making. The new car weighs 33 percent less than its predecessor. Although the new car’s 450 cc single-cylinder engine has 25 percent less power than the previous 600 cc 4-cylinder engine, it accelerates fast and has better fuel economy. The new car also features a sophisticated double-wishbone suspension that will transfer power to the road better.


  1. Michele Kramer says:

    What a great team! Congratulations to all. It was wonderful to see the competition and witness firsthand the ingenuity, dedication and cooperation by all team members! Outstanding way to end the year.

  2. Serena Ashmore says:

    Congratulations to my 2014 Formula Car Team!
    I am so proud of you all! Your hard work and dedication paid off in a big way!
    WAY TO GO! :)
    (Your AEC Momma)

  3. Sue Raesly says:

    Great job, Lafayette students. Very proud of your accomplishments. You are changing the world. My son, Ryan, is a senior in the McKelvy House and we are great supporters of all that surrounds Lafayette and their accomplishments. We are honored to be part of the Lafayette “family”.

  4. Felicia Arciuolo says:

    What an unbelievable accomplishment! Best of luck Matt and all of the team members.

  5. David Toler says:

    A hearty congratulations from the Lehigh Valley Section of SAE International. We provide financial support to the Lehigh Valley teams because we understand the value of such projects in developing the next generation of talent. The success demonstrated by the Lafayette FSAE team is just icing on the cake! We expect great things from these team members in the years to come, including staying connected with future teams at Lafayette. Dr. Hummel and the entire staff at Lafayette are doing a great job with these students.

Comments are closed.