Salem, NH - A group of 10 engineering students from Temple University, all part of the school's Formula SAE program, linked up with the Atlantic, F2000 and F1600 Championship Series during August. The students joined the Championships for both the Pittsburgh and New Jersey rounds, getting an up close look at the motorsports world with Angelo Zarra, president of ANZE Engineering, a prominent race suspension design company.
Zarra, a Temple University FSAE graduate himself, spearheaded the program, organizing the group and leading "class" in the Formula Race Promotions (FRP, organizer of Atlantic, F2000 and F1600) paddock.
"We started at Pittsburgh, exposing the group to everything from the F1600 cars all the way to Atlantic," said Zarra. "We basically showed off 'Race Car Design 101,' with the goal to open their eyes to what real race cars are and what teams are doing. We went through the details of everything, suspension design, chassis, safety, engine, exhaust, cooling, data, everything."
The goal was to expose the students to the real world racing environment, said Zarra. When the group next arrived at New Jersey Motorsports Park at the end of August, all students had completed homework assignments related to various areas of race car design and fabrication.
The group was given full access to the teams in the paddock, observing team operations, race car preparation, chassis design and racing transportation logistics. The students came loaded with questions, eager to learn and left with a whole new perspective on the motorsports world.
"How do you design a soccer ball having never seen one?" Zarra asked. "We need to get them real world exposure to the racing business in order for them to understand the unique design requirements of the racing industry. The FRP paddock is the perfect opportunity to get these kids excited and involved working with teams. We already have several Formula SAE students working with teams in the FRP paddock."
Students have not only joined some teams on the car prep side; but FRP has let students shadow technical inspectors. FRP is looking forward to further developing a program for the students to get real world experience.
As part of the Formula SAE program, students essentially design a race car.
"Some of questions they encounter during the design process have answers you can't find in a book," Zarra said.
"At the track, you have the best experts in the field answering the questions. You better take notes. The opportunity to see the interaction of parts on the car and then to see them in action is a real world experience that can’t be replicated in a classroom."