SAE uOttawa was formed in 2012, making 2022 its eighth competitive season. By comparison, many university teams competing in Formula SAE have been around for over 25 years. Despite being a young team, Formula SAE uOttawa continues to grow and leave its mark on Formula SAE university competitions.
Each year, Formula SAE teams from Canadian and American universities compete in an endurance race: the goal is to complete 20 laps around the track with the fastest lap time and fastest time overall. This season featured the first new car built by the uOttawa team since 2019. The students planned their time well as they worked on designing, testing, and manufacturing the car throughout the fall and winter terms.
In May, the Formula SAE uOttawa team travelled to Michigan for the first competition since the start of the pandemic. They were optimistic: not only did they have a newly built car, but also they had the determination to make a comeback, and they did not disappoint. Although they encountered a few minor emergency repairs after their technical inspection, the team qualified for the endurance race with flying colours. And for the first time in the team’s history, they successfully completed the entire endurance race!
The pull of competitive teams
Formula SAE uOttawa is one of at the Faculty of Engineering. Students who join a competitive team encounter new challenges and opportunities as they apply the theories they’ve learned in the classroom, from design right through to manufacturing. “The competitive teams are important because they supplement what you learn in school with hands-on design applications and working with mentors throughout the process,” says Isaac Jeaurond, a third-year mechanical engineering student. “It is an experience that you won’t get anywhere else.”
“The competitive teams are important because they supplement what you learn in school with hands-on design applications and working with mentors throughout the process.”
— Third-year mechanical engineering student
Students are mentored by staff members and past teams through the . CEED strives to expand experiential learning opportunities for students as they develop professional and leadership skills in their field. The competitive teams have access to the in the STEM Complex, an area designed for collaboration and skill development where students have access to the machinery and technology their teams need.
“The team has brought me a treasure trove of experience that I could not even have dreamed of,” says Jacob D’Aoust, a third-year mechanical engineering student and member of the mechanical design team. “The firsthand design work, hands-on experience in mechanical assembly and manufacturing, along with excellent mentorship from the senior members of the team, is a perfect environment to propel students forward in learning how the car works and how the engineering process works from A-to-Z in general.”
In addition to bringing together many university teams, Formula SAE competitions host major industry partners, like Honda, Tesla, and SpaceX, who look to recruit current students and new graduates for internships and engineering positions.
“I joined the team within my first week of university, within five minutes of learning about its existence,” says D’Aoust. “I’ve personally always been interested in the automotive world and have been looking for a way to learn more about the core aspects of it with hands-on experience, and the team seemed like the perfect environment for that.”
The future of Formula SAE uOttawa
Manufacturing the car in the lab, testing it on the track, and participating in brainstorming sessions with teammates, are only some of the highlights of working in a competitive team. “It is a very rewarding feeling when you start the car for the first time and see each of the pieces working together,” says Jeaurond.
With the fall term fast approaching, competitive teams are returning to the workshop to prepare for the year ahead, which includes recruiting new team members. Applications are open to any student who has a passion for racing, enjoys hands-on learning and wants to join a competitive team.
Formula SAE will hit the road again in October to take part in the , an annual competition hosted by the University of Toronto where new students are introduced to the world of formula racing, make connections, and enjoy a day at the track.
“When you see the car, it can be overwhelming. When I first joined and met the older students, I thought that it would be too much and I wouldn't be able to do it,” says Jeaurond. “But you soon realize that we’re all students, and we’re all here to learn.”