February 10, 2006
In an engineering lab on the lower level of Upson Hall, a group of highly dedicated students work diligently on assembling a vehicle capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under four seconds.
Members of Cornell’s Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team, they are building a formula racecar that will compete against vehicles from 140 other engineering schools from around the world this spring.
Since Cornell first participated in 1986, its SAE team has won the competition nine times, including the last two years.
Students on the team are excited to be part of a winning tradition.
“I basically came to Cornell because of the team,” said Zack Eakin grad. “[I came] to be involved with the incredibly hard working and dedicated people who are the reason the team has enjoyed so much success.”
“The premise of the SAE competition is to build a car that autocrossers would purchase and use as a weekend race car,” explained Rob Rhodes ’06, a member of the team’s ergonomics and business squad, one of several such subgroups.
The Formula SAE competition is more than a simple race. Competing teams square off in a variety of events designed to evaluate various capacities of the vehicles.
The competition is divided into two parts: static events and dynamic events. Static events include a cost report, a design contest, a fuel economy competition and a business presentation. Dynamic events, considered the more exciting element, consists of a skid pad, acceleration test, an autocross – where the vehicle’s handling is put to the test – and culminates with an endurance race of 22 kilometers.
Cornell’s SAE team has about 40 members. Upperclassmen on the team receive three credits per semester for their involvement. Freshmen may participate, but for no credit; this is to ensure that they may scale back their commitment if necessary, according to business team member Jonathan Green ’08.
Team members are highly committed, logging between 20 and 60 hours a week on the project.
Unlike many other schools that fund their SAE teams themselves, Cornell Formula SAE’s budget of approximately $40,000 is underwritten entirely by outside individuals and firms, the largest of which is General Motors. In Cornell Formula SAE’s early years, in fact, GM donated the Upson Hall lab in which the vehicle is know assembled.
“All of our sponsors love seeing the car,” said Green.
Explaining why sponsors support the program, Green said, “It’s not just that we build the car. The team is run like a corporation. It’s a lot like the real world.”
Past members of the Cornell SAE team have gone on to
careers in the automotive industry, including working for NASCAR.
In the fall, team members design the vehicle. Over the winter, they build it. And in the spring, they test and tune it in preparation for the contest.
“While other students are enjoying their winter vacation we were here building the car,” Rhodes said.
“This is what we do,” said David Porter ’08, the engine rebuild team leader. “It’s pretty contagious. You get pretty excited about making something and then making it better.”
Archived article by Daniel PalmadessoSun Staff Writer
February 10, 2006
At the Institute for African Development’s weekly seminar yesterday afternoon, Prof. Assis Malaquias, government, St. Lawrence University, argued that Africa’s present state of underdevelopment is a result of inequitable post-colonial leadership. He said he believed that Africa’s situation was further aggravated by “external and internal weaknesses that independence was supposed to correct.”
The seminar, “Africa’s Self-Inflicted Underdevelopment,” took place in Uris Hall and addressed the history of political, social and economic situations in post-colonial Africa, as well as the present status of African nations and the reasons for the failure of formerly implemented policies.
The external and internal weaknesses Malaquias referred to included global and domestic problems. Globally, Africa could not achieve total independence from the world’s superpowers, especially during the Cold War era. Africa was unable to leverage this dependence to their advantage and failed to garner financial support that could have helped it towards prosperity. Internally, the political, economic and social conditions during the post-colonial period prevented the possibility of advancement.
A native of Angola, Malaquias addressed the early political difficulties of the nations. It “became a prize to be seized by political or military officers” who used their power “for their own aggrandized needs,” he said.
Malaquias remained optimistic about Africa’s future economic development despite crippling political, social and economic statistics. For example, 29 of the 36 lowest-ranking nations in the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) were in Africa; approximately 300 million Africans live on less than one dollar a day; and from 1970 to 1995, the continent’s debt grew more than thirtyfold, from $11 billion to $340 billion.
Malaquias argued that African independence, once considered an auspicious beginning, has instead contributed to the continent’s present state of distress. More than two-thirds of sub-Saharan nations, he noted, sank into poverty with the end of colonialism.
Because previous foreign approaches to African development have failed, Malaquias advocated new models. He related adopting previous development models for African development to a novice pilot in training. One should be wary of getting in a plane with a new pilot, he said, the same way one should be wary of implementing other, ‘learned’ models in a new country.
He said that Africa has been “intellectually and theoretically lazy” by not adopting new frameworks, and that novel development theories applicable to Africa’s situation would need to be developed for Africa’s economy to grow.
Mainza Mugoya grad appreciated Malaquias’s insight into the world’s perceived lack of interest in Africa’s development, agreeing that people are misinformed in thinking that “there is a conspiracy against Africa.”
Amos Kungu, an Ithaca resident, spoke highly of the emphasis Malaquias placed on an “open ended solution” to development and the “advancing position Africa must take responsibility for” solving its development problems.
Jared Vary ’07 was impressed by the seminar and commented on the importance for undergrads like him to learn beyond the classroom: “It’s good to come out and truly appreciate a college education.”
Archived article by Sanika KulkarniSun Staff Writer