Each year, Lawrence Technological University students gain valuable, career-enhancing experience in competitions that challenge them to tackle real-world design and engineering challenges. Sponsored by the SAE International), these competitions are an integral part of Lawrence Tech’s engineering curriculum, which has always stressed the importance of enriching “theory” with “practice.” Nearly 30 years ago, this belief prompted Lawrence Tech to become one of the first universities in the United States to participate in the SAE® Collegiate Design competitions.
In these year-long projects open to all undergraduates, students work in teams similar to those they will encounter in industry. They research, design, build, and test their vehicles and aircraft, as well as raise funds and create marketing presentations. At the end of the academic year, they test their knowledge and skill against other student teams in regional and international competitions.
Students design, build, test, and fly a radio-controlled heavy-lift cargo airplane. Given a set of constraints, their goal is to airlift the most weight possible. The students are judged in the categories of oral presentation, design and innovation, payload prediction, and flight competition. In 2009 and 2010, the Lawrence Tech team finished among the top 10 in the SAE® Aero Design East Competition.
Competing against more than 100 other teams to have their design accepted for manufacture by a fictitious firm, students design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain. In 2009 Lawrence Tech’s team finished 27th overall in the Midwest out of 100 teams, winning 3rd place in land maneuverability, 16th in acceleration, and 19th in suspension and traction. In 2010 the team won 3rd place in the tractor pull.
Students design, fabricate, and race a small, formula-style, autocross racing car under the assumption that a manufacturing firm has engaged them to produce a prototype for evaluation as a production vehicle. The car is judged in high-performance endurance track trials in acceleration, skidpad, autocross, fuel economy, and endurance. In 2010 Lawrence Tech’s car finished 16th place overall, 11th in endurance, and 7th in design.
Lawrence Tech began participating in this competition, endorsed by the SAE and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, in the 2009–10 academic year. Students design, build, and race an open-wheel, single-seat, plug-in hybrid racecar focusing on the engineering of the hybrid drive system and vehicle suspension to maximize performance in acceleration, autocross, and endurance. In 2010 the team placed 3rd in class and won General Motors’ 3rd place design award.