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REF NO.: 275

SUBJECT: Formula MUN surprises judges with a very unique design in global competition
DATE: June 1, 2004

MemorialUniversity’s Formula MUN car racing team recently competed in the Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) in Detroit, Michigan. The Memorial car was a year in the making and was built from the ground up by a team of 10 students from the Engineering, Business, Arts and Science faculties. The team, which is the only university Formula team east of Montreal, knew they had a winning design and their results proved that. The team came 48th out of 136 teams from around the world in the design category. The team attributed this showing to their use of aerospace-grade carbon fibre rear uprights which resulted in the team’s lightest car ever.

Matthew Garvin was the team leader for 2004. He says a design judge told them it was “the best application of carbon fibre technology he’d ever seen and no other team had used it before.” In addition, they were one of two teams to score perfect (20/20 points) on one of the cost analysis competitions where they were tested on their knowledge on how such a vehicle would be built in an industry setting.

Unfortunately, the team ran into a string of bad luck from the start of the trip to Detroit the worst of which was finding a new motor to install just two days before the start of the competition. “We installed the new motor at the University of Waterloo and slept in the hallway of the engineering building just to get it done in time,” said Mr. Garvin. “I told some people at the competition we had lost our engine two days before and they couldn’t believe we were even there!” Once there, weather conditions slowed things down when the entire competition was evacuated for a tornado warning and everyone was ushered into a tornado shelter as golf-ball-sized hail started falling. Because of the weather the Formula MUN team missed some racing.

In the end, the Formula MUN team came in 108th overall. But Mr. Garvin says it’s still the best car they’ve ever constructed and they will build on it for next year. “That car is fast. There’s no two ways about it. The car is there, the technology is there and the team is there so next year will definitely be better.

“I’m very happy with the way we performed although it was not the overall result we were seeking,” he said. “This was the best year in terms of team work. We gave it everything we had. There was nothing more the team could have done to make our results better. We ran into some bad luck and this team stuck together better than any other team I’ve worked with. When we had a problem we dealt with it and got back on track.”

Team member Mike James says the Formula MUN car performed exceptionally well. “It was an amazing experience to wait on the starting line with teams such as Leeds of London, Korea, and Colorado Boulder next to you waiting to get on the track. The car hit the track with power the Formula Seahawks had not seen before. It was amazing to see the car compete with so much energy.” He adds that although the team was exhausted, plans for the 2005 model have already started. “The long three day drive home was a preliminary design meeting, bringing a lot of new innovations to the table for the 2005 season.”

The first Formula MUN project began in 1996 when a group of engineering students got together and used the design of a racing car as the basis for their final year design projects. The Formula MUN project has very strong support from Memorial University including sponsorship through the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, P.J. Gardiner Institute, Technical Services, Student Recruitment, Student Affairs and University Relations. In addition, the Formula MUN team is grateful to community sponsors, including Atlantic Recreation Yamaha, the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador, Gateway, West Side Charlie’s, CHC Composites and Therapeutic Services for their support of this year’s project.

Formula SAE is an international competition held in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia where students design, fabricate, and compete with small formula-style race cars. It dates back to 1981 when a few teams from the southern United States competed against each other. The event grew throughout the ‘80s, attracting GM, Ford, and Daimler Chrysler as the official sponsors, and soon became a worldwide event, with teams from as far away as Korea, Japan, UK, and Australia competing.

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