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Clarkson University Formula SAE Team Finishes 22nd At National Competition

The Clarkson University Formula SAE Team overcame an early setback to place 22nd out of 125 competitors at the annual Formula SAE Student Design Competition held recently in Pontiac, Mich.

Despite a pre-race collision, which caused damage to the front of their vehicle, the team managed to fix the problem and get the car on the track in order to secure the school’s fourth top-25 finish in five years, and outrace such schools as Penn State, the Rochester Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech, Purdue University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Formula SAE, which is part of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) Collegiate Design Series, challenges students to design, test and race small, formula-style cars. The vehicles are conceived and built from scratch over the course of a school year. This year, a record 125 colleges and universities from the U.S., Canada and Mexico registered for the competition.

“This was a great team effort,” said team coordinator Andrew P. Berryann ’01 (mechanical engineering, Averill Park, N.Y.) “We finished every event, which was very difficult to do. Only 20 cars finished every event.”

The team that went to Michigan also included Chad S. Brown ’01 (mechanical engineering, Mohawk, N.Y.), Jeremy M. Fox ’02 (mechanical engineering, Boonville, N.Y.), Beau C. Fulford ’02 (mechanical engineering, Washingtonville, N.Y.), Kevin C. Houghtaling ’02 (mechanical engineering, Neversink, N.Y.), Brian D. LeFevre ’04 (mechanical engineering, Ontario, N.Y.), Jason M. LeFevre ’02 (mechanical engineering, Ontario, N.Y.), Nicholas M. McGregor ’02 (mechanical engineering, Watertown, N.Y.), Joseph M. Rocca ’03 (mechanical engineering, Cairo, N.Y.), Jason S. Rossman ’02 (mechanical engineering, Roxbury, N.Y.), Jeremy S. Rossman ’02 (electrical engineering, Richland, N.Y.), Daniel P. “Gumby” Sabatinelli ’02 (electrical engineering, Milford, Mass.), Stewart A. Semeraro ’02 (mechanical engineering Waterbury, Conn.), Ronald Talarico ’02 (mechanical engineering, New Hartford, N.Y.) and Joshua S. Waligory ’01 (mechanical engineering, Lowville, N.Y.).

John Moosbrugger of Colton, N.Y., associate professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering, served as the team’s adviser.

Clarkson’s team was nearly finished before it started. On the first full day of competition, driver Daniel Sabatinelli was putting the car through its paces on the practice track when it hit a bump and ended up in a hay bale. Sabatinelli was unhurt. The car, however, was not so lucky.

“The front wheel caught in the hay bale and was torn off,” said Berryann.

With three hours before their first event, the team had to rely on their skills to get the car ready to go. That’s where teamwork came in.

“It was amazing how we sprang into action,” said Berryann. “I ran over and started looking at the parts and I started ticking off what had to be replaced. Some guys checked out the driver to make sure he was OK. Then I ran back to the paddock while everyone else carried the car back. I got there, and everyone was already pulling parts out and disassembling the car. I didn’t even have to tell them what to do. It was just incredible.”

As team members worked frantically to rebuild the front of the car, it began to rain, forcing the day’s events to be pushed back and giving the team extra time to make repairs. Thanks to a little divine intervention, the team was ready to compete just three-and-a-half hours after the accident.

Berryann said Formula SAE is a great opportunity for first- and second-year students to get hands-on engineering experience before they take the bulk of their classes in their junior and senior years.

“It’s a great time. You learn so much on the car that you just don’t learn in the classroom. Companies look for this kind of experience. Just ask them,” he said, pointing to Houghtaling and Jason Rossman, each of whom will be interning with NASCAR Winston Cup racing teams this summer.

The Formula SAE team is part of Clarkson University's SPEED (Students Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) program. SPEED promotes multidisciplinary project based learning opportunities for more than 200 undergraduates annually. SPEED projects involve engineering design and analysis, project fabrication, and the enhancement of professional competencies such as budget management, effective teamwork and communication skills. SPEED receives financial support from Eastman Kodak Company, General Electric, Corning Incorporated and Alcoa Inc.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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