UAA engineers start club with goal to build Formula race car

Editor's note: This story has been modified from its print version to reflect a correction. UAA does offer Bachelor of Science degrees in engineering, however they do not offer a bachelor of Engineering degree.

UAA students interested in building race cars and then racing them have not had an outlet to pursue their interests. All that has changed with the birth of the UAA Club Council’s newest club – The Formula Race Team.

The Formula Race Team was started by UAA student Erin Urvina. The mission of this club is simple: build a sweet race car and race it in the Society of Automotive Engineers’ annual Formula race. This competition will pit teams from different universities around the country against each other in a series of races. Although competition is stiff, the event will be rewarding for all who compete.

“It’s not a race, it’s an engineering project,” Urvina said. “In classes you have textbooks, but sometimes the textbooks can’t tell you what will work and what won’t.”

The competition will demand quite a bit of the teams who compete. During one portion of the competition, judges will ask the team questions about the car. Members of the team will be called upon randomly, so each individual must know everything there is to know about the car. Also, engineering obstacles have been written into the rulebook. For instance, cars entered in the competition cannot use antifreeze; only water. This will force students to find creative ways to keep their engines from overheating. And of course, safety comes first. The rule book lays out a host of safety specifications, and anything other than strict adherence will result in disqualification.

For now, the club is focusing on fundraisers. Urvina, along with a core group of dedicated auto enthusiasts, are tirelessly campaigning and searching for support. They hope to complete their race car sometime next year, and enter it in the next possible competition. Enrollment is limited, however, and a team of students with cell phones will need to call the SAE’s enrollment number continuously until one of them gets through.

It’s true the odds seem stacked against them, but the Formula Race Team is full of piss and vinegar. While most teams come from schools with well-established engineering programs, UAA currently does not offer a bachelor of engineering degree. The club already has 27 people signed up, and is currently discussing partnerships with other clubs, university departments and local businesses. The core group will work tirelessly over the summer to raise money, and soon they will have made a racecar.

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“It’s a huge process, and if we achieve this it will be a great achievement for students at UAA,” said Formula team member Jeremy Fortner.

Urvina has high hopes for the club. There has been talk of an engineering program, and this club could pave the way for it. More importantly, it fills a need not currently being offered at UAA: the opportunity for national recognition in the field of engineering. The SAE competitions are sponsored by Ford, GM, Chrysler and several other prominent motor companies. Experts from these companies will be watching competitors closely, and winners will receive a great deal of national exposure.

“If any students want to be involved in the automotive industry, this is the best way you could possibly start,” Urvina said.

Students interested in joining the Formula Race Team should contact Erin Urvina at [email protected] or call her at 751-5578.