What is FSAE Racing? All you need to know about formula student

Sep 28, 2023 |By Tomas Jindra

Ever thought the uni scene was just about lectures and exams? Dive into Formula Student, the ultimate FSAE racing experience. Discover how to join a team, the tech behind those speedy Formula SAE cars, and why this competition might just be cooler than the latest TikTok trend. From engines to FSAE online buzz, it's all here!

Kicking Things Off: The Formula Student Buzz Explained

Imagine a bustling college workshop. Amidst the hum of machinery and the scent of engine oil, a group of students is huddled around a sleek, miniature race car.

Their eyes sparkle with passion, hands working on every component. This isn't a scene from a high-budget racing movie; it's a normal day in the world of Formula Student (FSAE). 

What does FSAE even stand for? Formula SAE. Not helping, I know.

Formula of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Also called Student Formula. You choose what name you like the most, I promise to use them all!

At its core, Formula Student is more than just a competition; it's a passion. A passion that begins with a blank sheet of paper and evolves in a fully functional race car. Year after year.

Since its inception in 1981, Formula SAEhas grown from a niche event to a global phenomenon.

Today, it attracts the brightest minds from universities worldwide, all hungry to showcase their engineering prowess and innovative spirit.

But beyond the technical aspects, FSAE teaches invaluable life skills.

Participants learn the art of teamwork, the nuances of project management, the craft of fundraising, and the importance of perseverance.

They experience firsthand the challenges of bringing a concept to life, balancing design aspirations with practical constraints.

And of course, they have to race!

The racetrack, with its roaring engines and cheering crowds, is the final stage, where months of hard work are put to the test.

But win or lose, every participant walks away with something far more valuable than a trophy: experience

The kind of experience that shapes careers, builds character and instills a lifelong love for formula.

As we delve deeper into the world of Formula SAE, we'll explore its origins, its evolution, and the incredible community that fuels its success. 

Revving Up Memory Lane: The Evolution of Formula SAE

The 1980s: A time of disco, bell bottoms, and the birth of a competition that would change the landscape of student engineering forever.

Enter Formula Student, a brainchild of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). 

While the world was grooving to the Bee Gees, a group of visionary engineers had a different beat in mind: the roar of engines and the thrill of innovation.

The concept was simple yet revolutionary: challenge students to design, build, and race a formula-style car.

What comes first on your mind when I say Formula? 

Speed? It’s much more. 

The competition was meticulously crafted to test every facet of engineering, from aerodynamics and suspension to budgeting and marketing.

It was about creating a holistic engineer, one who could balance theory with practice, innovation with feasibility.

As the years rolled on, Formula Student's reputation grew.

What started as a modest event in Texas, soon caught the attention of universities all around the states.

And only another few year leter an International Formulate SAE is born, spreading all over the world. Where is the FSAE competition located now? Well, everywhere! But States are still leading.  

Campuses buzzed with excitement, workshops came alive with activity, and before long, FSAE became the ultimate student showdown on a global scale.

The competition's format evolved, introducing new challenges and segments.

From combustion engines to electric and autonomous vehicles, Formula Student has always been at the forefront of technological advancements, mirroring the rapid changes in the automotive industry.

But while the cars and technologies have changed, the spirit of Formula Sae remains untouched.

It's a celebration of engineering, teamwork, and talent of all the students who decide to take this challenge. 

The future of Formula Student is as promising as its illustrious past, and the journey, as they say, has only just begun.

The Road Ahead: Zooming into the Future of Formula Student

As we've journeyed through the world of Formula Student, from its humble beginnings to its global impact, one question remains: What's next for this iconic competition?

Let's peek into the crystal ball and explore the future avenues of FSAE.

Eco-Friendly Innovations: With the world shifting towards sustainable solutions, Formula Student teams are increasingly focusing on green technologies.Whether it's exploring electric powertrains, experimenting with alternative fuels, or optimizing energy consumption, the race is on to build the eco-friendly race car of tomorrow.

Autonomous Racing: Driverless cars aren't just the stuff of sci-fi movies anymore. They're becoming a reality, and Formula Student is right at the forefront. Teams are now delving into the realm of autonomous vehicles, integrating AI and machine learning to craft cars that can navigate tracks without human intervention.

Virtual Collaboration: In an increasingly digital world, teams are leveraging technology to collaborate like never before. Virtual design sessions, digital twin simulations, and remote testing are becoming the norm, allowing teams to innovate and iterate faster, irrespective of geographical boundaries.

Expanding Horizons: As Formula Student grows in popularity, we can expect to see more countries joining the fray. This means new challenges, new perspectives, and a richer tapestry of engineering innovations.

Bridging the Industry-Academia Gap: Formula Student has always been a bridge between academic learning and real-world application. As the competition evolves, we can expect even closer collaborations between universities and the automotive industry, leading to internships, job opportunities, and groundbreaking research.

All in all, while the tracks, cars, and technologies might change, the essence of Formula Student remains constant.

A relentless pursuit of excellence, a passion for innovation, and a commitment to shaping the future of motorsport.

As we look ahead, one thing is clear: the best is yet to come.

More Than Just Racing: The Multifaceted World of FSAE

As I said, the best is yet to come... but it’s not bad now either!

When most people hear "Formula Student," their minds instantly race (pun intended) to high-speed tracks, roaring engines, and the thrill of the chase.

And while racing is undeniably a massive part of FSAE, there's so much more beneath the surface.

Of course, you need to solve all those questions as:

How fast do Formula SAE cars go? What engines are best for FSAE? Can Formula E go faster?

The last answer is yes, sorry to break it to you.

But here's the kicker: while all these technical aspects are crucial, they're just one piece of the puzzle.

Teams also grapple with budgeting, sourcing materials, and managing their time efficiently.

They pitch their designs to potential sponsors, honing their marketing and presentation skills.

In essence, Formula Student is as much a business challenge as it is an engineering one.

And then there's the race day.

The culmination of months, sometimes years, of hard work.

The atmosphere is electric, the stakes high.

Teams not only race against each other but against the clock, pushing their cars to the limit. But not behind… you know… safety first. 

Behind the Scenes: The Powerhouses Fueling Formula Student

Every great story has its heroes, and the tale of Formula Student is no exception.

While the limelight often shines on the sleek cars and the students who craft them, there's a backstage crew of institutions and big names that have been the backbone of this competition.

First up, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Society of Automotive Engineers.

These aren't just fancy names on a letterhead; they're the pillars that have held up the Formula Student edifice for decades.

Their expertise, guidance, and unwavering support have been instrumental in shaping the competition, ensuring it remains a benchmark for engineering excellence.

But institutions alone don't make a legacy.

People do.

And when it comes to Formula Student, one name stands out: Ross Brawn OBE.

If you're even remotely into motorsports, you'll recognize him as an F1 legend. His endorsement and involvement with Formula Student speak volumes about the competition's caliber.

When someone of Brawn's stature gives a nod to FSAE, it's a testament to its significance in the world of motorsport and engineering.

Yet, the beauty of Formula Student lies in its community.

Beyond the big names and institutions, there's a vast network of sponsors, mentors, alumni, and enthusiasts.

They're the unsung heroes, offering financial backing, technical expertise, and moral support. They're the ones cheering the loudest at every race, celebrating every win, and offering a shoulder during setbacks.

How to become one of them? 

Dive In, Gear Up: How do you join a formula student team?

So, you've caught the Formula Student bug, huh?

Maybe it was the roar of the engines, the sleek designs, or just the sheer passion of the students involved.

Whatever it was, you're here now, wondering, "How can Iparticipate in FSAE?”

Step 1: Research and Reconnaissance.

Start by diving deep into the world of Formula Student. Visit the official Formula Student websites, read up on the rules, the events, and the teams. Familiarize yourself with the competition's structure and what it demands from its participants.

Step 2: Find Your Local Team.

Most universities with engineering programs have a Formula Student team. Look for posters, check out the university's website, or ask around. If your institution doesn't have a team, consider starting one! It's a challenge, but hey, isn't that what Formula Student is all about?

Step 3: Attend a Meet-and-Greet.

Most teams host informational sessions or open houses at the beginning of the academic year. It's a chance to meet current team members, learn about their experiences, and get a feel for the team dynamics.

Step 4: Identify Your Strengths.

Are you a design whiz? A marketing maven? Or maybe you've got mad coding skills. Teams need a diverse set of skills, from engineering and design to marketing and logistics. Find where you fit in.

Step 5: Commit and Dive In.

Joining a Formula Student team is a commitment. There will be late nights, challenging problems, and moments of frustration. But there will also be triumphs, breakthroughs, and the unmatched thrill of seeing your car race down the track.

Step 6: Network at Events.

Once you're part of a team, make the most of the events. Network with members from other teams, attend workshops, and learn from the experts. The Formula Student community is vast and diverse, and there's a wealth of knowledge to tap into.

Step 7: Keep the Passion Alive.

Even after you graduate, stay involved. Become a mentor for your team, sponsor events, or even judge competitions. The world of Formula Student is as much about the community as it is about the cars.

The process actually looks easy, but hey. Rather be quick, currently there are 45 teams on the waitlist. And btw, the fee to join FSAE is 1550 us dollars. 

That’s I guess also good to know.

If need (I beg it is!) you can find fsae online, but the original, American, web is not very intuitive, so rather check fsae international. 

Is fsae worth it?

You bet! There are plenty of benefits on the bright side such as: 

  • Multidisciplinary Learning: Formula Student is not just about building a race car. It encompasses various disciplines from mechanical and electrical engineering to marketing, logistics, and team management. This provides students with a holistic learning experience.
  • Real-world Application: The competition allows students to apply theoretical knowledge in a real-world setting, bridging the gap between classroom learning and practical application.
  • Teamwork: Building a race car from scratch requires seamless collaboration. Students learn the importance of teamwork, communication, and conflict resolution.
  • Networking: Formula Student events attract enthusiasts from around the world, offering students a platform to network with industry professionals, peers, and potential employers.
  • Innovation: The competition encourages innovation. Teams are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible, leading to breakthroughs in automotive technology.

But you also have to consider the dark side. There is not much. But still. 

Think about all the stuff you could do with the time you will spend on FSAE.

If that is okay, you should go for it! Because I don’t really have anything else. 

So, are you in?

1. Formula Student 2023

Organized by: Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)

Location Eligibility: Global

Prize: Trophy and lifetime lessson

Deadline: Sep 30, 2023