Started in 1979, Formula SAE is an international competition for student teams to design, manufacture, and race a car subject to regulations put forth by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Over 400 teams from universities worldwide participate in events hosted around the globe where the teams must defend their design choices during various static events, under the scrutiny of industry judges. The teams must also participate in dynamic events, testing both their car's performance and their drivers’ abilities. Each team’s race car must excel in multiple categories to win top honors at competition.
Static events include Design Presentations, Cost Analysis, Sales Presentations, and overall Technical Inspection. In the Sales Presentations, teams compete by creating hypothetical scenarios of entering a commercial market and pitching their market strategy to a series of industry judges. Before moving to the Design Presentations, the Cost Report is combed for accuracy and the car must pass a Technical Inspection. Every inch of the car is scrutinized for rules adherence, and any corrections must be made on-site before the car may proceed to dynamic events. The second day of competition is dedicated to the Design Presentations, where students have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the engineering process as well as highlight key design elements.
Each team's car must negotiate five dynamic events including Acceleration, Skidpad, Autocross, Endurance, and Efficiency. The Efficiency event is part of Endurance. Each event features four heats with the exception of Endurance, which only runs two heats. For each event completed, cars are awarded points based on their performance relative to the best car. Acceleration is a timed straight-line acceleration run. Skidpad features a figure-eight shaped course where teams aim to minimize the time it takes to complete both a left and right hand turn of constant radii. Autocross showcases the cars' abilities in deftly cornering through tight courses with a myriad of features. Endurance tests the cars' long-term viability. Usually a long, fast course, Endurance shows cars at peak performance for the longest period in competition.