Formula Buckeyes drive home a third-place finish

Posted: July 14, 2023
Formula Buckeyes team with vehicle

The Formula Buckeyes, Ohio State’s Formula SAE team, placed third out of 114 teams in the 42nd annual Formula SAE competition held at the Michigan International Speedway in May. This is tied for the highest the team has ever placed at the main Formula SAE competition and the best since 2001. The University of Illinois placed first in the competition, followed by Wroclaw University of Technology who came in second.

The Formula SAE competition challenges undergraduate and graduate students to design and build formula-style vehicles. More than 100 collegiate teams from around the world competed in the four-day event. 

“It’s a true testament to the hard work everyone has put in over the years to make this team what it is today,” said lead driver Colin Mullan, incoming team president. “We owe a lot to some of our amazing alumni and supporters for giving us a solid foundation coming out of the COVID years that hampered our ability to get rolling again. Our members have committed hundreds—if not thousands—of hours to get us to this place. Our goal has been to continuously improve and keep pushing this team forward, which I’m proud to say we have accomplished. “

Teams were judged on design and business presentations, cost analysis, as well as a series of dynamic track competitions, including autocross, skidpad, acceleration and endurance events. Each event was evaluated and graded by a team of judges, then scores were combined to get a final tally for each competitor.

“We spend the entire school year working towards this event. We start with a design phase over the summer and into the fall, with most of the manufacturing occurring from late fall through the winter. This year, we had a pretty aggressive testing schedule,” Mullan said. “Our consistency across all events this year was certainly a testament to the extra prep time and hard work from all of our team members to make it happen. We were inside the top 10 in each dynamic event, but never dominated anything. We kept it mistake-free and executed about as well as we could, which certainly helped our final placement finishing third overall.”

The Formula Buckeyes comprise nearly a dozen different sub-teams that each have their own sets of obstacles to overcome in order for the team to succeed.

The Formula Buckeyes vehicle speeds down a race track

“The real challenge is piecing everything together in a holistic way and helping those who need it at various times,” Mullan said. “Everyone has to meet their individual goals for us to be successful, and we have done a great job of cultivating talented and hardworking people in our leadership positions to make that happen. From there, it’s the sub-team integration, where we put all the pieces together. We hit every stage of the engineering design process, from initial problem identification, to design, manufacturing and testing. Each phase has its own series of hurdles that we work hard to overcome as a team!”

This year’s Formula Buckeyes SAE team was sponsored by Mercedes Benz of Easton, Keysight, MK1 Composites, Honda and TRC. Other large sponsors include Westinghouse, Triple F Collection, Ineos, GE Aerospace, Huntsman, Westlake, Reese, Sterling and Totalsim.

“We have many very valuable sponsors who contribute anything from services to money,” said Business Director Danny McCray. “There are countless others that support us in various ways, our website has the full list available. We are very grateful for all their support. It truly takes contributions from everyone here to make our competition happen.”

Adviser Jeff Chrstos, a research scientist and director of the Driving Dynamics Lab at the Center of Automotive Research, is also proud of the team’s accomplishments.

“The team worked amazingly well this year and is on a great trajectory of improvement,” he said. “But, while the results are nice and everyone should be very proud, for me, seeing how the team culture continues to improve is even more satisfying.”

modified version of article by Jake Rahe, Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, with contributions by Colleen Herr, Center of Automotive Research.

Category: Students