Student Projects Get Ready for 2023 Competition Season

Posted: May 2, 2023

The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) is home to six student project teams. As competition season draws near, the garage stays busy day and night as students put the finishing touches on their vehicles.  

Buckeye AutoDrive

students working on computers and white boards in office setting

The Buckeye AutoDrive team participates in the SAE AutoDrive Challenge, which requires the team to have a fully autonomous passenger vehicle that can navigate urban driving courses at the end of four years. The team is currently in year two, which means they are focusing on vehicle controls and further developing perception algorithms. The vehicle must meet SAE J3016™ Standard Level 4 automation.  

From June 4-10, the team will travel to Mcity at the University of Michigan to conduct in-person testing on the vehicle. Team Captain Javier Fernandez says, "While the goal for this year is to place as high as possible at the competition, we're also shooting to gather as much integration experience as we can. Things are starting to break now, and more things will probably break as we get closer to the competition, but getting this troubleshooting experience this early in our careers is simply invaluable." 

Buckeye AutoDrive will hold a reveal day on May 11 at 3:30 p.m. at the Center for Automotive Research. 

Baja Buckeyes

student welding metal next to baja buckeye vehicle

Baja Buckeyes design, manufacture, and build an off-road vehicle to race against other collegiate teams. After last year’s success, the team only has a few minor adjustments to make to their vehicle, including switching from a drive shaft to a chain drive system to reduce weight.  

This year, the team will be racing at Baja SAE in Portland, Oregon at the end of May. The team is excited to  finish the car early and perform well at competition. Business Lead Elyse Andel says, “We want to keep building off of the success we established in the last few years.” 

The team will hold their reveal day on May 6 at 11 a.m. at the Center for Automotive Research. 

Buckeye Current

female student working on electric motorcycle battery pack

The Buckeye Current team has built an all-electric, all-custom motorcycle. They are currently in year two of a two-year development cycle. Last year, much of the work involved understanding design parameters, laying out plans and finalizing design work with simulation. Now, they are in their manufacturing phase, which involves laser cutting, plasma cutting and building an entire battery pack in house. 

This year, the Buckeye Current team will be land speed racing at both Speedweek and the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials (BMST), both in Bonneville, Utah. 

Speedweek, August 5-12, is a national competition where cars, trucks and motorcycles can compete. This event does not have weighted classes, which means it’s harder for electric vehicles like Buckeye Current’s to get records. At Speedweek, the team can set records in the electric faired and electric unfaired categories.  

BMST, August 26-31, however, is an international competition where only motorcycles can compete. This competition is governed by weight class, which means the team is going for more records. They are looking at four total here.  

Out of the six total possible records to be broken, the team aims to break at least five. 

When Team Lead Laura Friedmann joined the team last year, it only had three people. Now, it’s a dedicated team of 28. Friedmann says, “I love giving young students the opportunity to go through the entirety of the design process. Some of the younger students are already designing key components of the bike. I’m proud of how dedicated they are to the team.” 

Buckeye Current will hold their reveal day on June 10 at the Center for Automotive Research. 

Buckeye Solar Racing

Buckeye Solar Racing vehicle with team members

The Buckeye Solar Racing team is only in their second year of business and working on building their first car. Last year, they focused on design. This year, now that they are an official student team at CAR and have the space, they are focusing on fabrication.  

The team has four sub-teams: business, structural, electrical and aerodynamic. As of right now, they’ve finished the chassis and bought a motor. Some projects they are currently working on are integrating the separate components onto the chassis, the driver canopy, wiring and programming the vehicle. 

The main event Solar Racing is preparing for this year is the Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) from June 27 to July 2 in Topeka, Kansas. This event has Grand Prix-style closed courses — basically a racetrack. Operations Director Samantha Turner says that this year the team is just trying to race. At FSGP, they will need to pass scrutineering — the evaluation of the car by race officials — to be able to race. If they don’t pass scrutineering, they will need to rush and make changes to the car the day of the race to hopefully compete.  

Turner, who is a senior, has been working on this project since her sophomore year. She said she is proud of the work the team has done within the last few years. “I’m excited that Solar Racing is finally an official organization and an official student team. This ensures that the team will be functioning longer after senior officer members like me graduate and pass the team off to a new generation of students.” 

 Buckeye Solar Racing held their reveal day on April 26 at the Center for Automotive Research 

To learn more about the team, read about how they got started.  

Ohio State EcoCAR

Ecocar vehicle and team members

Ohio State EcoCAR operates on a four-year cycle, with new challenges and deliverables due every year. Right now, they are in year 1, which involves modeling and design. They are currently selecting motors and modeling for the car, a Cadillac LYRIQ, which they will receive after the year 1 competition. The team’s end goal is to make the car emphasize fuel economy, lower emissions, and improve consumer acceptability, connectivity and autonomy. 

The year 1 competition will take place in Orlando, Florida on May 21. Previously, the team placed first for six years straight. However, they haven’t placed first in the last two years. When asked what the team’s goals this year were, Communications Director Grace Yeh said, “To get first and get our winning streak back.” 

Outside of the work they do on the vehicle, the team is also required to host three different kinds of outreach events every year: youth, community and government relations. These events provide the team with opportunities to engage with their communities and spread information about what the team does. 

Formula Buckeyes

2023 Formula vehicle

Formula Buckeyes build a new car every year and are currently in the testing phase of their cycle. As of right now, they have a running car, but much of the work that lies ahead involves troubleshooting and making sure all is good to go by competition. This year, some of the main upgrades include improvements to the engine tune, cooling system, overall weight reduction (by about 10%) and more extensive driver training. 

The main competition they are gearing up for this year is Formula SAE Michigan. In addition, they have two other races they are hoping to attend — one in Pittsburgh and one in Ontario. Business Director Danny McCray says, “We’re excited to show off our car and compete at the highest level against some of the top competition in the world.” 

On April 22, the team held a reveal day at CAR for alumni, sponsors and family and friends.  




Written by CAR Writing Intern, Cassie Forsha

Category: Students