On June 13th, thirty UNC Charlotte students stepped foot on the track of Michigan International Speedway to compete for the first time in the Formula SAE EV competition. These students were mechanical and electrical engineers and business and data science majors. We are incredibly proud of our two data science students, Rishabh Rovi and Franco Antunez for helping UNC Charlotte make history this summer.
Formula SAE is a competition where university students build small race cars. They have to design, manufacture, and test the vehicles, as well as handle the business aspects like fundraising and marketing. The goal is to create a fast and efficient vehicle. The competition helps students learn practical skills, teamwork, and prepares them for careers in engineering and related fields. There were approximately 70 teams competing in the event, representing schools from around the world. However, the majority of the teams were from North America. UNC Charlotte stands out as one of the few schools in the nation that fields both an Internal Combustion (IC) and an Electric Vehicle (EV) car in the competition.
Rishabh and Franco held significant spots on the team. Rishabh focused on the powertrain sub-team and took on multiple responsibilities. He primarily worked on integrating the high and low-voltage systems, ensuring they functioned together smoothly. Additionally, Rishabh was involved in data acquisition and analytics work, collecting and analyzing data to gain insights for the team's project. Franco, as the EV team's Vehicle Dynamics Lead, designed the suspension geometry and analyzed tire data for tire selection. His role was crucial in optimizing the car's performance and handling.
The competition enjoys strong support from the automotive industry, with industry professionals actively participating as judges, networking with students, and recruiting talent throughout the week. Formula SAE is a Collegiate Student Design Competition organized by SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers). It brings together teams of students from universities worldwide, challenging them to design, build, and compete with small formula-style race cars. The race was a huge success for UNC Charlotte and the team. Rishabh Ravi states, “As a first-year team, we achieved the 46th position out of 68 international competitors, and we’re proud to be recognized as the top EV team from the Carolinas.”