Zips Racing unveiled its latest formula style racecar on Wednesday evening, April 27 to a crowded Student Union Ballroom. Friends, family, faculty, alumni and students attended the event to catch a glimpse of this year’s engineering masterpiece: the ZR16.
The Society of Automotive Engineers Formula Combustion (FSAE) team, Zips Racing, designs and develops a new car each year to compete against schools from around the globe. Conceptual design of the ZR16 began last August as the team returned from competing abroad in Germany. Nearly 10 months later, the car sat draped in black cloth to be unveiled by the team of students.
The team has existed since 1990, but performed only its first unveiling in 2012 under the direction of former team captain Daniel Lough. Since then, the team has annually held these events to thank local sponsors for their contributions.
The event began at 6:30 p.m. Guests were able to meet and talk with the roughly 30 team members prior to the 7 p.m. opening remarks. Design boards that conveyed engineering principles, data, models, and car performance figures were on display to give viewers an appreciation for the technical understanding required to complete the project.
Students could also look at the 2012 car and some of the exotic materials that went into building this year’s model.
Donald Visco, the associate dean of UA’s College of Engineering, gave the opening words, explaining the importance of the FSAE program and the benefits of exposure the team provides to UA and its students and instructors.
Visco introduced the subsystem leaders of the car, equating them to the starters of a college sports team. Team captain and fifth-year student Anna Davies was called to the stage to unveil the car.
After a brief speech, the black cloth was swept back to reveal the ZR16, a slimmer and lighter rendition of the previous year’s.
Guests piled around the stage as the team posed with the product of many long nights and long hours of hard work. Later in the evening, the car was returned to its shop.
“I was impressed and wanted to learn from them,” said Gaurav Mittal, this year’s faculty advisor of the current team.
Many FSAE team members learned skills and practices far removed from what is taught in the classroom. Engine performance simulation, CNC machining, and TIG welding were some of the various skills students learned and practiced to complete the car. And the work put in went much further than just the success of the team. Students were able to apply knowledge gained from working on the team to job interviews for co-op and full time employment.
During the event, Chris DiSante, a graduating mechanical engineering student, demonstrated his knowledge to interviewers, evidencing how he secured a full-time position with Elon Musk’s renowned aerospace manufacturer SpaceX.
Dean of Polymer Science Eric Amis also took the stage, his first time attending the FSAE combustion unveiling.
“[The team] provides opportunities for students to dig in and being in a competition makes it more interesting,” Amis said, referring to the four international events the team will be competing in over the summer.
Freshman Jason Mack toured the University in December and made his way through the Zips Racing workshop. By January, he had made his mind to attend UA and become a member of the FSAE combustion team.
The team turns its focus toward testing and tuning the car in preparation for the upcoming competition in May.
Those interested in following Zips Racing as it competes can find the team on Facebook and at ZipsRacing.com.