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UIC Formula team races to victory

UIC’s chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Formula team captured first place on Oct. 29 during Lawrence Technological University’s annual autumn Grand Prix in Southfield, Michigan.

The autocross-style race challenged the drivers to navigate one at a time through a defined course of cones without hitting any. UIC won with the fastest lap time of 33.96 seconds, edging out the second-place team that recorded a time of 34.24 seconds.

“When the course opened, we were one of the first teams on the track and we started putting down competitive times right away,” said Antonio Salerno, team captain and a student in mechanical and industrial engineering.

UIC competed against Lawrence Technological University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan-Dearborn, University of Toledo, Wayne State University, and Western Michigan University.

The win was not easy for the young engineers as they faced challenges before and during the race that almost knocked them out of the competition.

The day before the team left for the race, they found two broken engine mounts on their vehicle. They immediately started disassembling the car to assess the damage and develop a plan of action.

Everyone came together to brainstorm and once they knew what had to be done, they got busy cutting, grinding, and welding to repair and reinforce the damaged parts.

“Once the car was repaired and put back together, we tested it and tuned the suspension to make sure we could show up to the competition and be competitive,” Salerno said

The students also came together as a team when the car had a small electrical problem halfway through the event. Undeterred, they got to work and had the car back on the track in less than an hour.

“Everyone on the team was ready to get to work whenever there was a problem. The team worked well together at the competition and in the weeks leading up to it,” Salerno said. “All of the amazing teamwork is why we were able to show up and instantly run fast laps and find ways to be faster throughout the day.”

The UIC team is made up of Salerno, Ben Hawkinson, Amaan Hussain, Mohamad El-Saghir, Jonathon Simon, Fabricio J. Gomez, Oswaldo Jimenez, Vincent McNulty, Kiro Mikhaiel, Abanoub Saad, Damian Pudelko, David Podstawski, and Cameron Rozek. Team members Tanseem Abbasi, Alex Guha, and Ted Bolbuc contributed to the win, but could not make it to the event.

SAE@UIC is a student-run engineering organization centered around designing, manufacturing, testing, and racing custom single-seat race cars. The competitions test the student’s engineering and project management skills and. also provide students with engineering and problem-solving experiences beyond the classroom. Additionally, the students take part in outreach opportunities including K-12 school lectures, STEM events, company visits, and a booth at the Chicago Auto Show.