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Formula SAE Team Wins Fuel Economy Event at International Competition

In only its second competition in team history, Villanova’s Formula SAE team, VU-02, drove off with first place – and a new record -- in the fuel economy event at the international Formula SAE student design competition at Michigan International Speedway in May.

Sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the annual competition draws student teams from colleges around the world who race Formula-style cars they build from the ground up. The Ford Fuel Economy Award goes to the team whose car uses the lowest amount of fuel during a 22Km (13.66 mile) endurance race. Villanova’s car used only .502 gallons of 93 octane gas, which set a new record for lowest amount of fuel ever used at the annual Michigan event.

“We are extremely satisfied with the performance of both our car and our team at this year’s event,” says Tom Gacka ME ‘10. “We are especially proud of our fuel economy win, and that our car was able to compete in all of the competition’s dynamic and static events.”

Tom Gacka ME ’10 during the “tilt test,” which ensures stability and fuel system security.

All student entries underwent a rigorous technical inspection, but only 34 of 120 teams built cars that were eligible to participate in each of the additional competitions, which included static events such as presentation and cost analysis, as well as a series of dynamic road test events such as acceleration and skidpad evaluation, autocross, and endurance and fuel economy.

Points were awarded per competition for an overall score. This year, Villanova’s team came in 28th overall, which represents a 34-place improvement over its 64th place finish last year. The team placed higher than four of the top 10 teams from the 2009 competition and the winners of the Formula student competitions in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Virginia.

Villanova’s Formula SAE team at Michigan International Speedway. Photos are courtesy of Jason Woo ME ’11.

In addition to Gacka, VU-02 team members included:

  • Chris Dipaolo ME '10
  • Tony Balsam ME '10
  • Ben Adams ME '10
  • Alex Cusack ME '11
  • Stephen Hesser ME '11
  • Jason Woo ME '11
  • Matthew Tank ME '11
  • Russell Rioux ME '13
  • Charlie Featherston ME '13
  • Chloe Charette ME '13
  • Philip Arets ME '13
  • Ben Rocci EE '13

Dr. Kenneth Kroos, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and alumnus Jonathan Zacharkiw served as team advisors.