Lawrence Tech Formula Electric team wins third in nation–again

SOUTHFIELD–Lawrence Technological University’s Formula Electric motorsports team earned a third-place finish in national competition.

The Formula Hybrid and Electric competition took place earlier this month at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.

A total of 17 teams from the United States and Canada participated in the event for half-scale Indy-style race cars powered by electric motors. LTU beat out teams schools such as Dartmouth, MIT, Princeton, and Yale, to win third place. It’s the same finish the team earned last year.

The Formula Hybrid competition consists of a variety of dynamic and static challenges. Throughout these events, students assume the role of a design team engaged to create a prototype vehicle. Teams demonstrate their creativity and project management skills, as well as their vehicle’s performance and durability. The challenge is to create a vehicle that is road-worthy and prevail over other designs.

Events include an acceleration test, a timed run through an autocross course with tight turns, and a 44-kilometer (27-mile) endurance test. Teams are also scored on their vehicle’s design and on a project management presentation.

The LTU Formula Electric car passes a safety inspection. LTU photo.

“We hit all our goals, we improved drastically in all the events,” said team co-captain Andrew Bartman, who graduated May 6 with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. “This year was a lot more competitive than last year, coming off COVID.”

And the team’s faculty advisor, Hamid Vejdani, assistant professor of mechanical, robotics, and industrial engineering, said of the team: “I am very happy with the result. We have been having steady progress since launching the Formula Electric team in 2018 and I am happy with the trend. LTU foresaw the importance of the EV industry and preparing our students for that back then, and now we are clearly ahead of the curve.”

LTU tied with Worcester Polytechnic Institute of Massachusetts for third spot. The University of Toronto took first place, and Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh, Pa. was second.

Formula Electric had its origins in 2006, when students from Dartmouth built a hybrid race car and took it to that year’s Formula SAE competition. The car was disqualified because it didn’t meet requirements for Formula SAE cars, which are powered by internal combustion engines. So, Dartmouth put together their own competition, calling it Formula Electric. The competition was held from 2006 to 2019, went virtual in 2020 and 2021, and resumed in-person in 2022.

Next up for the LTU team is an event June 14-17 at Michigan International Speedway, an electric car competition sponsored by SAE, formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers. Bartman said he’s expecting most of the team to participate, even as they begin their engineering careers–including Bartman, who’s supposed to start a new job at GM June 12.

“I’ve been going to school with these people for years, we’ve pulled a lot of all-nighters, and you build a lot of close relationships,” Bartman said. “It’s fun now to see everybody moving on to really cool positions in industry.”

Lawrence Technological University,, is one of only 13 private, technological, comprehensive doctoral universities in the United States. Located in Southfield, Mich., LTU was founded in 1932, and offers more than 100 programs through its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, Engineering, and Health Sciences. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation’s top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best in the Midwest colleges. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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