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home : education : schools July 22, 2017

6/13/2017 12:01:00 PM
Engineers test design at airport
An Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) team tested their Formula race car design at Sisters Eagle Airport last weekend. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
An Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) team tested their Formula race car design at Sisters Eagle Airport last weekend. photo provided

Engineering students from the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) tested their Formula race car at the Sisters Eagle Airport last weekend in preparation for a national competition in Lincoln, Nebraska, next week.

The SAE Collegiate Design Series is an engineering design competition for undergraduate and graduate students. The competition provides college teams with parameters for the design and construction of a single-seat race car with the best overall package of design, construction, performance and cost. Over 100 colleges from across the country are registered to compete with their Formula race cars in June.

The competition is the culmination of a year's effort designing and building the race car. Each year the design criteria is changed, so the teams must start from scratch in their design and materials. OIT provides funding for some of the materials, and students must secure sponsors for the remainder. Many of the OIT team members have participated in the competition for several years.

In addition to the performance-based race, the students must present the technical aspects of their project to a panel of engineers in an oral inquisition. The OIT team says this is the most intimidating part of the competition. To help them practice, owners of two engineering companies based at the Sisters Airport asked the students technical design questions. Steve Marsan of Innoviator, and Benny Benson of ENERGYneering Solutions posed a series of questions representative of what the students will be faced with at the competition.

Throughout the afternoon, the students performed several sessions of testing to measure various aspects of the car's performance on both straight-away acceleration down the entire length of the runway, and serpentine maneuvers. Using a runway for testing is critical to ensure the car's performance is ready for the competition, which will also be held on an airport runway. Although the students attend OIT at the Klamath Falls campus, they are not allowed to use a runway at a nearby airport.

The owners of the Sisters Eagle Airport, Benny and Julie Benson, who are also mechanical engineers, have supported the OIT Design Team by hosting the field tests of engineering design projects for several years. Because the Sisters Airport is privately owned, they have the option to make the runway available for educational purposes such as engineering design testing of Formula Race Cars.

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