Racing into the future

Formula SAE team at MSU Texas makes its mark by completing car on first try

It was a historical year at Midwestern State University for the Formula SAE Club.

They built their first car and competed nationally in the SAE International’s Collegiate Design Series.

The MSU Texas Racing members said it took vision, work, humility, community support, and a lot of luck to get there.

The club unveiled the car (MR01, Mustangs Racing 01) on May 13 at the MSU Texas Sikes Lake Center. Formula SAE is a student design competition founded in 1980 and organized by SAE International, previously known as the Society of Automotive Engineers. Each program constructs a prototype race car that is evaluated for its potential to be replicated as a production item.

To Trevon Antoine, the head of the Drivetrain/Powertrain, it was an unforgettable experience. His life goal was to be an automotive engineer. He didn’t find automotive clubs that fit his dream when he arrived at MSU Texas in 2019. Then one early morning in Pranaya Pokharel's class, he found out an FSAE team was forming. “I remember that day so vividly,” Antoine said. “It was negative 5 or 10 degrees outside. I was thinking no way, man (on going to class), but I’m a good student.”

He made it to class and fast forward a year and he was proud to see his team unveil a car before leaving for Michigan and the completion.

“This program is more than a car,” Antoine said. “This is about this school and this program. Some will come to this school and want to be engineers, and some may not know what they want to do. This is for students who will tour McCoy (College of Science, Mathematics & Engineering) looking for a major. We revolutionized what could happen.”

“We will build upon it,” said teammate Sharome Burton, the head of Chassis/Ergonomics. “This day will stand as a stark moment for MSU. This is one of the greatest days of my life. As a first-year team, history was stacked against us. Most first-year teams fall short and do not even complete a car.”

Interim President Dr. James Johnston takes a picture of the Formula SAE car
Interim MSU Texas President Dr. James Johnston takes a picture of the Formula SAE car as a group celebrates the accomplishment in May 2022. (A J Lopez III/MSU Texas)
Formula SAE team looks at the car
MSU Texas Formula SAE team members after the public unveiling May 13, 2022. (A J Lopez III/MSU Texas)

 

The first-year team at MSU Texas didn’t give up so easily. Marcy Brown Marsden, dean of the McCoy College of Science, Mathematics, & Engineering, is proud of them. “I am very impressed with the leadership and dedication among the FSAE students. They have gone from nothing to a completed car in just 12 months,” Brown Marsden said. “A Formula SAE team on campus means more options for students to explore new career fields, challenge their design skills, and gain more hands-on experience with real-world techniques in manufacturing.”

The executive director of the Formula SAE Team Leadership, Chris Paulson, and his team didn’t know where they would be able to work and where the support would come from when they first pitched the idea. “It takes a lot to get a race car. A lot of things have to go right,” he said.  “I would say that the completion of the car is a testament to how genuine curiosity and the will to learn can allow you to do anything and open up countless opportunities.”

Burton admitted not every day was easy. “Believe it or not, it helps to know what you’re doing, and we figured that out each day. Our ambition was matched by our willpower, and dare I say, luck, which helps in any business,” he added.

The goals for the future include a more advanced car, a way to incorporate senior design, growing the team well beyond nine members, and even going electric in the future, Burton said.

In the present, the MSU Texas FSAE knew it likely wouldn’t be the best in the country with formidable college teams across the country with so much experience. But being realistic while formulating a vision was also a plus, Brown Marsden said. “While thinking big, these students also had their practical side. The students told me we won’t win. There are teams with 30 years of experience, we just want to build a car. It's why I love being around students. They dream. They are untapped potential looking for an outlet. I am grateful every day for students to bring their dreams into my office because it allows me to dream, too.”

How to help Mustang Racing

There are many ways you can donate to help MSU Texas FSAE compete in the Formula SAE competition.

Contact msutexasfsae@gmail.com to get more information on the project.

 

Related Links

MSU Texas Racing
Students embraced challenge of building first race car