For the dedicated members of Spartan Racing, the SJSU student chapter of Society of Automotive Engineers International, what drives them is a strong passion as they set their sights on the finish line.
During a 10-month cycle each year, specific teams focus on designing, building, testing and preparing one of three types of vehicles for competitions. New this year is an all-electric vehicle, in addition to a formula race car with a combustion engine and an off-road baja vehicle. Upcoming competitions against other universities will take place within the next few months.
The opportunity to become part of Spartan Racing is what attracted some students to their chosen major or, in the case of senior mechanical engineering major Tom Stroud, the university itself.
“I think the formula team is the biggest reason why I decided to go to San Jose State,” said Stroud, who is team manager of the inaugural electric team. “I got into a few engineering programs, and I chose this one to be on the team, so that was one of the deciding factors for going to this school.”
Formula SAE Unveils 2013 Car
Formula SAE is hosting a party on April 26 in San Jose where the students will showcase their latest open-wheel car. Interested attendees can register here for the free event. The group will also raise funds at the party for its upcoming races by selling food, drinks and T-shirts.
Vince Donatini, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, heard about Spartan Racing through a welcome barbeque during his first week as a SJSU student. He worked his way up to become the current Formula SAE team manager and has helped organized this event.
“Besides the sponsors, we’re also thanking our friends, family and parents especially for giving us the option to go to college,” Donatini said, “where without San Jose State, without our parents, without anyone else we have in our lives, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to do a project that impacts our lives so heavily.”
Gaining Hands-On Experience
In addition to engineering, students from any major can become part of Spartan Racing, bringing their specialized skills and knowledge to these projects. For instance, the non-racing portions of the competitions, known as static events, include creating and pitching a business proposal to market the vehicle, defending design decisions on paper and in front of judges and writing a report about the vehicle’s costs.
“I think it’s important to note that you don’t have to be an engineer to be on the team,” Stroud said. “Everybody is welcome.”
Donatini said they sometimes describe this extracurricular activity to prospective members as “a job or internship that you can’t get fired from.”
“You’ll make your mistakes here, so once you graduate, we’ll hopefully give you the skills that you need in industry,” he said.