Start your engines

School’s Formula SAE team races to build new car

Equipped with a dedicated team, positive attitude and new 600cc motorcycle engine, the PNW Formula SAE team is revving up for this year’s coming competitions. 

“We just hit the most stressful part,” said team President Spencer Jones. “We have eight weeks to build a whole car!”

Formula SAE is a nationwide student design competition that challenges university undergraduate and graduate teams to design, create and compete with small, formula-style vehicles. The team provides students the opportunity to learn hands-on. 

“It’s a great way for engineering students to get real-world experience,” said Jones. “A lot of students go through their whole college careers, but still struggle with jobs because they don’t have the experience, big reason why I’m here. This is why a lot of the students here even have jobs.”

PNW Formula SAE placed 86th out of 120 teams in 2019. This year may be different, however, as every year the cars get quicker, and the team gets more experience. 

“If the people who graduated four years ago could see what we have now, it would blow their minds,” said Dino Rinaldi, team vice president and designated driver. “When I first started, the car weighed 580 pounds. Last year, it was at 458 pounds, and this year we think we can get it lighter.”

The Formula SAE team gets its parts and funding from the university and manufacturing companies that choose to help. Coming from a smaller university, the team doesn’t always get the funding it wants.

“There are a lot of bigger, richer schools we’re competing against,” said Jones. “But we get by. It’s really about our ability to use what we have well.”

Even with so much to do in no time, the team looks forward to what’s ahead – beginning with the first competition in Michigan on April 4.

“It’s always fun for me to go to these competitions,” said Jones. “I love seeing the other teams, other cars and all the creativity involved.”