UA Engineering Students Prepare Vehicle for Competition

  • May 3rd, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama Society of Automotive Engineers’ formula team, Crimson Racing, will return to the SAE competition at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. May 7-11.

This will be the team’s ninth year competing.

At the competition, the team will compete against more than 120 international teams. It will be judged on four racing events. First, each team will race across a straight, flat 75-meter track for the purpose of testing each car’s acceleration speed.

“Generally we get from zero to 60 (mph) in three seconds,” said Rand Hutchison, team caption.

Next, the teams race in a skid pad event to measure each car’s cornering ability on a standard figure-eight track. Then, they compete in an auto-cross event to measure each car’s ability to maneuver and, finally, they participate in a 22-kilometer endurance test.

Last year, a sheared differential sprocket adapter kept them from competing. Team members fixed the problem this year by using a computer software program called SolidWorks to redesign an adapter capable of handling power emitted from the engine.

“It happened too close to competition that we did not have the time or money to fix the problem,” Hutchison said.

Since the car was already built, the team spent most of their time modifying it for the 2013 competition, he said.

“We try to use some components of the car that are still in good shape and could handle another year of the stress of racing,” Hutchison said. “Mainly these are the uprights, rotors, brake system and shocks.”

In addition to designing an adequate car, the team must prepare a three-page design report. At the competition, they will give a mock sales presentation, including a cost report. Hutchison said they will be judged on the car’s economic practicality.

“It’s really more of an engineering competition than a driving competition,” Hutchison said.

Crimson Racing is sponsored by Nucor Steel, Chevron, Alabama Bolt, Alabama Hose and Rubber and Fitz-Thors Engineering.

Dr. Paulius V. Puzinauskas, associate professor of mechanical engineering, serves as faculty adviser to the team.

Members of the team include:

  • Aaron Burchell, a junior in metallurgical engineering from Somerville
  • Willie Bryant, a sophomore in mechanical engineering from Marlow
  • Graham Carlton, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Homewood
  • Shanley Carlton, a senior in mechanical engineering from Broosville, Fla.
  • Evan Chodora, a freshman in mechanical engineering from Buffalo, N.Y.
  • David Culotta, a freshman in engineering from Hoover
  • Brandon Duan, a freshman in economics and public relations from Vestavia
  • Tyler Efird, a junior in mechanical engineering from Memphis, Tenn.
  • Cole Frederick, a freshman in mechanical engineering from Montevallo
  • Zach Flynn, a senior in mechanical engineering from Gurley
  • Andrew Greff, a graduate student in mechanical engineering from Sugar Land, Texas
  • Dirk Gromatka, a sophomore in mechanical engineering from Stuttgart, Germany
  • Amanda Hansen, a senior in computer science from Robertsdale
  • Stefan Herz, a senior in mechanical engineering from Tuscaloosa
  • Nolan Hoffman, a sophomore in mechanical engineering from Trussville
  • Tyler Hoffman, a sophomore in computer science from Houston, Texas.
  • Rand Hutchison, a senior in mechanical engineering from Priceville
  • McKenzie Morris, a sophomore in mechanical engineering from Greensboro, N.C.
  • Ethan Pettis, a sophomore in mechanical engineering from Eastaboga
  • Evan Odom, a senior in mechanical engineering from Tuscaloosa
  • Adam Pouncey, a senior in mechanical engineering from Birmingham
  • David Rollins, a freshman in mechanical engineering from Chicago
  • Tony Wente, a freshman in mechanical engineering from Mattoon, Ill.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s fully accredited College of Engineering has more than 3,900 students and more than 110 faculty. In the last eight years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Mitchell, Portz and Truman scholars.


Adam Jones, engineering public relations, 205/348-6444,; Judah Martin, engineering student writer,

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.