Note: Audio available for this story
Members of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Formula SAE racing team are chronicling this year’s work in a unique way as they prepare for national and international competitions this spring and summer.
The students—among them Lawrence Litchfield, the RIT Formula team project manager—have been guests in a yearlong, multipart series of interviews on the RIT news podcast Studio 86. In each 15-minute interview, Litchfield, a fifth-year mechanical engineering major in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, and his teammates provide progress updates on the design and manufacture of a Formula-style racecar from concept through testing and first competition this spring.
Enhanced features on this year’s model include hybrid structural components, including the frame (composed of steel and carbon-fiber composite material); and stub shafts—part of the car’s drivetrain—made of aerospace-grade AerMet 100 Alloy, donated by Carpenter Technology Corp.
RIT student engineers anticipate this year’s racecar will weigh approximately 425 pounds—about 25 pounds lighter than last year’s model, fostering greater potential speed and overall performance. The six-speed vehicle will be able to reach a top speed of approximately 85 miles per hour and accelerate from zero to 60 mph in about four seconds.
“When you think about that, a $90,000 Porsche 911 won’t accelerate that quickly and that car has 40-50 years worth of research and development of professional engineers behind it, whereas we’ve got 15 years’ worth of undergraduate student work,” says Dave Holland, a fourth-year mechanical engineering major and member of the RIT Formula team.
“It’s a lot of fun to drive, that’s for sure,” Litchfield adds.
This year’s RIT Tiger-themed Formula racecar will be unveiled at the inaugural Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival on May 3. RIT competes in the annual Formula SAE competition May 14-18 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. (near Detroit), part of the SAE Collegiate Design Series, and at the Formula Student Germany contest Aug. 6-10 in Hockenheim.
RIT’s Formula team, now in its 16th year, has competed in Formula SAE-sponsored competitions every year since 1993. The 35-member team in advised by Alan Nye, RIT professor of mechanical engineering, and Dave Hathaway, mechanical engineering operations manager.
Note: The podcast series Studio 86 and other RIT news podcasts are available at www.rit.edu/news/podcasts. To listen to specific episodes in the “Formula SAE Road to Detroit” series, visit:
Studio 86 ‘On the Road’: Formula SAE Road to Detroit
Studio 86 ‘On the Road’ II: Formula SAE Road to Detroit
Studio 86 ‘On the Road’ III: Formula SAE Road to Detroit
RIT news podcasts are also available through Apple iTunes.