Michigan college students compete in SAE Formula 1 - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Michigan college students compete in SAE Formula 1

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(05/11/12) - Hundreds of college students are at Michigan International Speedway this weekend, working as drivers and pit crews. More than 100 teams are competing in the annual Society of Automotive Engineers Formula One event.

For the past six or seven months, they've been preparing for this.

"For the students, this is probably one of the best learning experiences they're going to have on their way through school," said Dr. Craig Hoff of Kettering University in Flint.

College kids from all over the world have been given a homework assignment: Form an engineering team and pretend you'[re running a business. The job is to design, build and drive a race car in competition.

"If you don't manage your money, if you don't manage your time, all your resources, you're not going to be successful," said Dr. Hoff.

Five teams from Michigan are in the competition, including one from Flint's Kettering University.

"This is more hands on and it definitely opens doors for new opportunities and jobs," said Joe Palazzolo, a Kettering University graduate.

The students are judged not only on how well the car performs, but on meeting deadlines and staying within a budget. It's a great real-world experience. Many corporations watch the competition, looking for talented new employees.

"They want to hire students who know how to bring a project through from design to completion," said Steven Daum, program manager for Formula 1 SAE Series.

While the competition will give these budding engineers great experience, they admit there is some collegiate rivalry.   

"It's really taking the theory to the next level and work with application. Then you get to race and find out how you stack up against other schools that are doing the same thing," said John Smerczak, a student at Oakland University.

"What this is about is bragging rights," added Dr. Hoff.

The competition wraps up Saturday at MIS with a 20-kilometer endurance race.

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