Rookie Tales from Formula SAE: Day 1

Alex Van Overbeeke-Costello is an intern in the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab and a passionate member of the UMass Lowell Formula SAE team. Recently, she joined her team in Barrie, Ontario  to represent SOLIDWORKS and compete in Formula North, where 45 teams from across North America showcased their small, formula-style vehicles. All Formula SAE vehicles are  conceived, designed, fabricated, and developed by students. This is Day 1 of Alex’s story.

We rode into Barrie, Ontario from Lowell, a 600 mile drive, through the night of Tuesday May 28. Thirteen of us packed into a Jeep Renegade, a Honda Element and an F250 towing the trailer.

Nights leading up to the event were without sleep. We worked relentlessly as a team to pull together the project. We arrived on Wednesday morning and immediately continued to work. Just like many of the other teams, we all worked hours through the day and night checking that every detail of the car would pass tech inspection. The first thing we did when we got to competition was our first round of Scrutineering (part one of tech inspection). We had a few changes to make in order to get through tech so we took the advice of the judges and went back to continue making adjustments. It’s pretty normal not to pass through tech on the first try. Tech Inspection consists of a Visual Inspection of the car, Tilt, Noise, and Brakes. Once you pass these inspections you may perform in the Dynamic Events. You can basically try to get through tech as many times as you want until the tech inspection closes.

This is my team. We are UMASS Lowell River Hawk Racing. From left to right, Steven, Dan, Amjad, Andrew, Ben, Alex (me), Deven, Sasha, Lorenzo, Zack, and in the car is Austin.

Our team is a struggling group of young engineers and other professionals. We work hard in school, most of us have part time jobs, and we also built this race car together. It is a Formula SAE internal combustion vehicle. It runs a Ninja 650 2 cylinder engine. It took 2 years to complete this car and it did not score well in design. It was completed by the 13 of us and we are extremely proud of it. Funding for our team has always been challenging. We are very fortunate to have such extensive resources from manufacturing labs that we actually make most of our parts in house. We manufacture significantly more parts than your average team. We are disorganized but getting better. We had a great competition this year and we are inspired to do even better next year.

Learn more about Alex’s journey on Day 2.


Sara Zuckerman

Sara Zuckerman

Sara Zuckerman is a Content Marketing Specialist in Brand Offer Marketing for SOLIDWORKS and 3DEXPERIENCE WORKS.