Cal State L.A.’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) team recently won first place in the first-ever California Challenge, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 and XPO.
The competition, which took place at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, CA, challenged high school and university students to race on an autocross course in either the Formula, electric, or fuel-efficient class—with the last car running as the winner.
“CSULA’s Formula Eagle vehicle won the Formula SAE event at the California Challenge because of the students’ passion to learn, their dedication to the team, and their love for CSULA,” said faculty adviser Trinh Pham, associate professor of mechanical engineering and associate director of the Honors College at CSULA.
Though the project was five years in the making, the final year of creative thinking and hard work that went into the CSULA formula-style racecar made all the difference.
“Starting a racing team from scratch has certainly been nontrivial, and several generations of students working together is what has led us to this win,” Pham said. “I am incredibly proud of my students, and they are incredibly proud to be a part of Formula SAE here at Cal State L.A.”
CSULA’s FSAE team members include Vincent Calderon (team captain), Parker Chambers (co-captain), Dea Flores (auditor), Isai Soltero (brake system), Antwan Phillips and Roberto Rosales (drivetrain system), Mabel Luu and Sengcory “Cory” Tran (electrical system), Steven Ngo and Alex Garcia (engine system), Rodrigo Torrez and Sergio Gamiz (suspension and steering system), Jimmy Shaw and Levi Christopher (media), Jimmy Aguirre (cost report lead), and Luis Aguilar (finance officer). The team’s technical advisor is Chris Reid, and the team’s mentors are Bill Paukert and Michael Lardy.
Calderon, who has served as a student team captain for two and a half years, shared that he learned a lot and it has been an interesting ride thus far.
“It made me realize just how much effort is required to make a project of this size and scope successful,” said Calderon. “It has taught me what it takes to build a successful team, and how to cooperate within a team in general! It gets a bit crazy sometimes, but the end result is well worth it!”
The race is actually representative of the course the CSULA students will run when they compete at the Formula SAE event in June against approximately 80 other teams.
“This competition was a good test run for the team to see where we excelled, and to see where we need to improve for future competitions, especially for our main competition in Lincoln, Nebraska,” said Calderon. “It was a great learning experience for us all and we had a lot of fun doing it! Winning first place was just the icing on the cake!”