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NIU Formula team prepares to compete in May

January 16, 2013

NIU Motorsports Formula teamNIU’s Motorsports Formula team, which designs, creates and races a formula style car, has been actively preparing its race car to compete in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Competition at the Michigan International Speedway in May.

These competitions challenge each team, made up of university undergraduates and graduates, to design, build and compete with their race cars.

“Each year a team competes, it is required that the race car be built from scratch,” Formula team co-captain Katie Doonan said. “Race cars usually take about a semester to plan and a semester to build.”

During the SAE competition, teams are judged in a series of static and dynamic events including: technology skills, presentation, engineering design and high-performance track endurance.

Up to five drivers are permitted to drive the race car during the competitions – Doonan being one – but there is only one main driver: team co-captain Kevin Zielezinski.

NIU’s Formula team is among 120 teams from all around the world competing. “Two years ago, NIU was ranked 35 out of the 120,” Doonan said.

The team did not compete last year, but members are actively working on their new designs for this year’s SAE competition. The team hopes to finish its race car, and get a substantial amount of testing in before they compete in May.

Fifteen active members from all majors and years make up the Formula team. Weekly meetings are held at 4:30 p.m. Thursdays, but the team members can be found regularly working in the shop.

“It provides you with real-life experiences, and you’ll learn a lot,” Doonan said. “It is also a great way to get that first job because employers look for students who are a part of SAE.”