The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Rainbow Warrior car racing team from the College of Engineering made last-minute tweaks and test runs before the vehicle was shipped to Nebraska for the 2019 International Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Collegiate Design Competition. The team received an extra boost from UPS Hawaii. The company is transporting the vehicle to and from Honolulu and Nebraska, worth an estimated $15,200.

“The Formula SAE project is one of a dozen senior design projects offered in the mechanical engineering department,” said Connie Young, team project manager. “We design, build and compete a Formula SAE race car.”

This the sixth consecutive year the college is participating in the international event. This year’s 80-team field, held from June 19–22, includes entries from the United States, Mexico, Canada, India and Brazil. More importantly, the team hopes to place higher than last year’s 14th place (out of 115 teams), UH’s best ever finish.

The team consists of 21 students, most of whom graduated in spring 2019. They have been meeting since last summer to organize, put together a budget, agree on the benchmarks to design and build the car, and test the end product.

“The main thing is that they have a 20 millimeter restrictor, about the size of a dime, and that’s the only thing that can breathe, that’s what limits their speed,” said Zachary Trimble, mechanical engineering associate professor and SAE Formula team advisor. “So it really becomes an optimization problem. That’s where the engineering comes in.”

In addition to applying theories learned in a classroom since they entered college, the students are also gaining real-life experiences.

“You learn more stuff because you have to work with people too and you learn all those dynamics working with other engineers that you cannot learn in the classroom,” said team member Stephen Cadiz.

Ten team members will travel to Nebraska to compete in the four-day competition. They leave on June 16.

race car
UH engineering students test their SAE Formula car at Leeward Community College.