On Tuesday, April 7, RPI’s Formula SAE team, Rensselaer Motorsport, unveiled its new racecar RM21 at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. Formula SAE is an intercollegiate competition in which student teams design racecars following a series of rules released at the beginning of every academic year. The cars are then judged in a series of events.
Kyle Dieterle ’15, Rensselaer Motorsport’s Rules & Safety Officer, explained how this year’s car differs from those of previous years. “One major change this year is we are reverting back to a space frame design, eliminating our use of our carbon fiber honeycomb panels and using a one-ply carbon-kevlar bodykit.” Additional changes in the design of “various components including the differential and differential housing, uprights, and aerokit” also have been made.
The racecars are designed entirely by students. Rensselaer Motorsport begins the design process in the summer and continues throughout the fall semester. Dieterle added, “The chassis is designed over the summer so it can begin to be manufactured as soon as the semester starts, as that is one of the largest and most complicated components on the car.” RPI’s team uses Solidworks 3D Modeling and Ricardo Wave software for the design process. Team members manufacture as many parts as possible themselves. When designs are too complicated the team’s sponsors help out by manufacturing parts.
Rensselaer Motorsport’s racecars are typically funded by sponsors and scholarships through RPI. Sponsors can provide monetary donations or manufactured parts for the construction However, this year’s car was partially funded through WeR Gold donations.
While in past years RPI’s team has competed at multiple competitions in previous years, due to budgetary constrictions, Rensselaer Motorsport will only be attending one competition. This year, Rensselaer Motorsport will compete at the Formula North competition in Barrie, Ontario.