Blair Kania, mechanical and aerospace engineering ’15, and her Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) team are partnering with the National Breast Cancer Foundation to design and build the first ever Formula SAE race car dedicated to raising awareness for breast cancer.
Each year, Formula SAE challenges students to design, manufacture, test and race a Formula-style car in the largest and longest running academic competition. “Formula SAE provides students an immersive design and build experience that gives us an opportunity to learn skills we will take directly into the workforce,” says Blair.
Before their “panther in pink” inspired race car competes at the Michigan International Speedway this May, the team has to make their design a reality and test its capabilities in the field. “Right now we are finishing up the manufacturing phase and moving into building out the vehicle. We are planning to have the rolling chassis complete before the end of spring break and have the race car ready for testing by the first week in April,” says Blair.
The only woman on Florida Tech’s Formula SAE team, Blair is responsible for the overall management of the 47 member team. “My key responsibilities include; setting our strategy and goals; motivating the team; liaising with university faculty, staff, and corporate sponsors; ensuring all of our documentation is compliant with our advisory committee and SAE International; and overseeing our $100,000 budget,” she says. In addition to her leadership role, Blair is on the suspension sub-team which is responsible for designing and analyzing the car’s dynamics and kinematics. Other sub-teams include the chassis, powertrain, and aerodynamics and body teams.
When Blair first joined Florida Tech’s Formula SAE team, she thought designing and building the car in time for the competition would be the largest obstacle. “It soon became obvious that our biggest challenge was communication, not only amongst our large team, but with all the university personnel involved,” she says.
Thankfully, Blair and her team have been able to overcome any obstacle thrown their way. “I am part of a team I consider to be the most hardworking, dependable, and respectful anyone could hope to be part of. I have never been treated differently by my teammates because I am female; most of the time I forget I’m the only girl on the team,” she says.
Before the big competition, Blair and 25 of her undergraduate team members will be showcasing their design in Florida Tech’s annual Northrop Grumman Engineering & Science Student Design Showcase. “I am one of a few students lucky enough to use this experience towards my senior design project,” she says.
Once the race car rolls into the Michigan International Speedway, Blair and her team will face stiff competition. “We compete in three static events and our race car is analyzed by industry experts and raced in a series of dynamic events against over 120 of the highest caliber teams from around the world,” she says.