University of Pittsburgh
June 7, 2000


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, June 9 -- A race car built by a team of student engineers from the University of Pittsburgh placed in the top 10 in the national Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Formula SAE Competition, May 17 - 21, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.

Pitt's team finished ninth out of 118 universities in the contest, an annual collegiate design competition in which student teams design, build, and test their own racing vehicles.

"The results of the competition really show the ingenuity and teamwork of Pitt's engineering students," said Minking Chyu, chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Pitt.

During the four-day event, the cars were rated in performance categories including: engineering design, acceleration, skid pad (lateral cornering and acceleration), autocross (handling and acceleration combined), fuel economy, endurance, sales presentation, and cost analysis.

The competition is sponsored by a consortium of the Big Three automakers—Daimler Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford. It is a showcase for the students involved, as well as a time for automotive recruiters to interview students for career opportunities.

This year, Pitt's team scored points in all events, including finishing in 4th place in the fuel economy and endurance event.

Pitt's Formula SAE race car is constructed of a space frame chassis of

chromoly (a steel alloy) tubing, and is powered by a fuel injected 600cc Honda motorcycle engine. The vehicle weighs 530 pounds and has 70 horsepower. It is equipped with disk brakes and sequential six speed transmission.

Designing the car is part of senior design project for mechanical engineering students at Pitt. Student captains Jeremy Himes and Brian Tone led the team of Josh Braskett, Ron Josefczyk, Mark Koontz, Josh Nicodemus, Greg Orphall, Brian Preaux, Tom Ruffner, Dan Schiller, Randall Smith, Pat Tessaro, Jim Wagner, Jon Watson, and Rich Wojnar.

Like professional auto racing, the Formula SAE program requires teams to obtain sponsorships to defray the cost of building the vehicles and traveling to the event. Sponsors of Pitt's car this year are: Delphi Electrical Systems, General Motors, Hoosier Tires, Nissin Brake Systems, Aurora Rod Ends, Pittsburgh Machine and Supply Co., the Pittsburgh Zoo, Northgate Honda, the Engineering Society of Western Pennsylvania, and Frank Miller of the Coach and Chassis Works.

Anyone interested in the Formula SAE program or sponsorship should contact the University of Pittsburgh Department of Mechanical Engineering at 412-624-7661.



Editors: Pitt's Formula car will participate in the Sports Car Club of America's Autocross at the Allegheny County Airport, June 24 and 25. Team members are available for interview by calling John Fedele at 412-624-4148.