While many people travel to western Europe to see cultural or historic sites, my friends and I traveled to Europe for a different sort of attraction: single seat electric race cars.
Over six days, in three countries, we met with Formula SAE – SAE stands for Society of Automotive Engineers – teams from five different universities. We saw some of the best student-built formula cars in the world.
FSAE is an international, collegiate-level design competition that challenges teams of students to build and race open wheel formula cars. MIT’s team designs and builds an electric car for the US competition in Lincoln, NE each June. I’ve worked on five of our cars so far and witnessed our car place second last year.
In racing, development never stops. There is always something you can do better next year. In Europe, where the electric category of the competition is four years older and the cars more advanced, the performance of the fastest cars reflects years and years of continuous improvement. While our team can only dream about carbon fiber monocoques, four-wheel drive systems with in-hub motors, and semi-active suspensions, these technologies are common place in the competition hosted in Germany. The car from ETH Zurich does 0-60 mph in 1.5 seconds. The Delft University of Technology’s car can corner at 3 G’s of acceleration. There’s even a new autonomous competition for European teams.
Our team’s five-person delegation was eager to learn not only the technical details of what made these cars so insane, but also how the racecar experience differs between teams in different countries.
Read more on the MIT Admissions Blog