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Society of Automotive Engineers Revs Up for Spring 2011 Competitions

Two students push out a hybrid racecar, with a student inside, at the 2011 Formula Hybrid Competition in New Hampshire. Photo by Kathryn LoConte Lapierre.

SJSU's Society of Automotive Engineers bring out the student-made hybrid racecar at the 2011 Formula Hybrid Competition in New Hampshire. Photo by Kathryn LoConte Lapierre.

By Sarah Kyo, Public Affairs Assistant

While the semester may be winding down, SJSU’s chapter of Society of Automotive Engineers International has been gearing up for competitions. The culmination of a year’s worth of hard work, long hours and late nights are three different cars: a Formula racecar, a Baja off-road vehicle and a Formula Hybrid vehicle.

The student-built vehicles compete against other universities in May and June.  Teams are judged by the speed, performance and design of their vehicles, in addition to their presentations to judges.

SAE President Jeff Yan described involvement in the student organization as “a tool to prepare us to be better engineers” and “a good resume builder.”

“It gives us the experience before we go out in the real world,” said Yan, a mechanical engineering student.

In addition to the hands-on, technical experience of building cars, Johanna Knudsen, a mechanical engineering student, said the student engineers also utilize communication and interpersonal skills while working in groups.

Yan said mechanical engineering and electrical engineering majors have been involved with the student organization. He added that SAE is open to different majors, and there are numerous ways to be involved in the organization in addition to designing and building the vehicles.

“One of the biggest things we’ve been trying to get is business majors,” Yan said.

SAE offers management positions, and the organization fundraises and markets itself to potential sponsors. Yan said each car costs $25,000, and most of the funds are raised through donations. SJSU alumni who have supported SAE include Don Beall, retired chairman and CEO of Rockwell, and Joe Parisi, founder and president of Therma Corporation.

The organization also documents its activities through photography, blogging, newsletters, and a YouTube channel.

For more information about the Society of Automotive Engineers, visit www.engr.sjsu.edu/sae.