students from college-level race teams study aerodynamics by
allowing them invaluable access to its world-class wind tunnel, along
with the expertise of its engineers
Real-world automotive experience inspires students from university
teams, allowing them to test their prototypes and validate their
The exchange is mutually beneficial; engineering students get
real-world experience and Ford keep tabs on the next generation of
DEARBORN, Mich.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–For months, college engineering students with a passion for motorsports
breathe, eat and live race car aerodynamics – tuning, testing and
tweaking their cars to ensure their team has the lightest, fastest
machine on the track.
Since 2004, hundreds of students on Ford-sponsored teams in Formula SAE,
Solar Car, SAE Super mileage and other series work
to make their cars as aerodynamically efficient as possible. They
aim for perfection – striving to be the fastest and the best. Along
their journey, Ford engineers help them refine their craft in one of the
company’s world-class wind tunnels.
Ford has been inspiring and mentoring the next generation of dedicated
student racers for more than a decade, offering the time and expertise
of its engineers and allowing the teams to put their cars to the test in
its tunnel facilities in Allen Park, Michigan.
An automotive wind tunnel generates a controlled stream of fast-moving
air, simulating real-world conditions to allow aerodynamic development
Ford’s wind tunnel is particularly sophisticated, providing both
aerodynamic and aeroacoustic testing in a wide variety of environmental
conditions for the company’s diverse lineup of both current and future
vehicles. Ultimately, the facility allows Ford to bring higher-quality
products to its customers.
A wide variety of student teams are putting their prototype vehicles to
the test at Ford’s wind tunnel facility Some of these include the
University of Michigan-Dearborn; University of Michigan-Ann Arbor;
Missouri University of Science and Technology; Massachusetts Institute
of Technology; Michigan State University; and The Ohio State University.
“For Ford, this is great community involvement,” says Erik Stancato, a
Ford vehicle architecture-vehicle integration engineer. Stancato
formerly captained his Formula SAE team at the University of
Michigan-Dearborn. “We have the testing facilities, we can answer the
technical questions, and we can offer occasional manufacturing support,”
Steve Wegryn, Ford supervisor of wind tunnel operations, says the
facility lets the students come full-circle on their designs. “By
simulating race speeds, they can validate their projections and
estimations on downforce and drag with hard data – enabling them to
tweak their design for optimal performance,” he says.
Very true, says Justin Rujan, lead aerodynamics engineer for the Formula
SAE team at University of Michigan-Dearborn. Rujan recently spent a day
in Ford’s wind tunnel. “In a book, you can learn the basics and lay the
groundwork to make design choices,” he says. “But until you can actually
apply that, and know you’re doing it the right way, it’s hard to make
In May 2015, the U-M Dearborn team placed 8th out of 120
college teams at the Michigan International Speedway, competing against
teams from around the world.
However, the results can be seen long before the race begins. Tristan
MacKethan, a junior and co-aerodynamic lead for Formula SAE’s MRacing at
the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, says his team was able to optimize
downforce by 24 percent as a result of an eight-hour session in the
Downforce improves traction and cornering abilities, both important
factors in racing. Ultimately, this should lead to faster lap times on
MacKethan, interning at Ford this summer in the autonomous vehicle
platform group, is part of a growing community of recruits from the
Competing on a student team offers benefits even after college, notes
Joe Hendrickson, who joined Ford as a systems engineer soon after
graduating from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2015.
He served as captain of his Formula SAE team his senior year.
“With this program, you’re using your degree before you even get out of
school,” he says. “You’re used to changing things around, collaborating,
trying new things. That’s helped me immensely in my position at Ford.”
About Ford Motor Company
Motor Company is a global automotive and mobility company
based in Dearborn, Michigan. With about 203,000 employees and 67 plants
worldwide, the company’s core business includes designing,
manufacturing, marketing, financing and servicing a full line of Ford
cars, trucks, SUVs and electrified vehicles, as well as Lincoln luxury
vehicles. At the same time, Ford is aggressively pursuing emerging
opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a
leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer
experience, and data and analytics. For more information regarding Ford,
its products worldwide or Ford Motor Credit Company, visit www.corporate.ford.com.
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