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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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‘Rollout 2024’

Skilled engineers present vehicles built from the ground up
The EV team displaying their car on March 24, 2024 at Aggie Park.

With competition just a few months ahead, Texas A&M’s Society of Automotive Engineers, or SAE, gathered on Sunday, March 24 as four teams revealed their race cars to family, friends and guests. As guests arrived in Aggie Park and waited for the cars to be revealed, they had the opportunity to play games and delight in food from Raging Bull Street Tacos.

After a year’s worth of work, communication senior and marketing lead for SAE Marcela Gonzalez said students finally get to bring their visions to life.

“This is an annual thing,” Gonzalez said. “Every year they design a new car. So this is right after manufacturing season and this is their way of showing their sponsors and their family members and their classmates all the work that they’ve put into these vehicles. The four teams that were featured today were Solar, IC which is internal combustion, Electric and Baja.”

Each team is set to compete in their own respective SAE competitions this summer, putting their hard work to the test, with some teams facing 70 or more opponents.

These engineers worked hard to build each vehicle from scratch, SAE President Andrew Lafferty said in his opening speech.

“I want you guys to know that these are the finest engineers that the country has,” Lafferty said. “We don’t do the same thing that a lot of other schools do. A lot of other schools do multiple year design cycles and they reuse a lot of designs, they take [the] same parts off the same cars, they do [the] same designs … We don’t do that. We start a new design every year, we start a new design for each of these cars. Everything that you see here on the stage today is not something that has ever been unveiled before … we do everything from the ground up.”

Baja Team’s car being displayed on March 24, 2024 at Aggie Park.

Senior mechatronics engineer and formula electric team project manager Gerry Mullins said building an electric car did come with hardships. 

“This is only our third car ever made, and electric power trains are a little bit complicated and a lot of information out there on them is a little bit proprietary, so we have to sort of learn our own lessons and [pay] the price to face trial and errors,” Mullins said. 

Sponsors partnered with SAE to help students in building their cars. In her speech, senior vice president of development at Vistra Corps and former student Claudia Morrow said their company mission aligns with that of Aggie values.

“So just like at Vistra where innovation and bold ideas and engineering is what drives our business’ success, that’s the same here at Texas A&M,” Morrow said. “And that’s why it’s been a perfect fit for us to support this program and partner with you. We’re going to require students that helped build these cars and had those bold ideas to help our business transform over the next couple of years and the next couple of decades.”

The IC team displaying their car on March 24, 2024 at Aggie Park.

Senior mechanical engineer and project manager for formula IC Thomas Traicoff said his favorite part of the whole process and event was seeing long hours of work finally come together.

“Working in the shop with everyone has definitely been enjoyable,” Traicoff said. “I’ve been in the shop since 8 p.m. yesterday and the whole team was out there. Everyone’s happy to be out there. People are getting tired, but you can really tell how passionate everyone is about the project, which makes me happy … We’ve had all our components separately, building them differently, but finally putting it together and putting that last bolt in, it’s really [fulfilling].”

As each car was revealed, guests filled with pride as they saw the students’ hard work come to life. Former student and member of SAE Kenton Borgonah said this year’s students did not disappoint.

“It’s always impressive,” Borgonah said. “Every year seeing these cars come together … seeing their progress has been really inspiring, you know, they’re doing a really good job with that … Of course, seeing the different approaches people take because, of course, with the different teams come different mindsets. Seeing how they tackle the issues and kind of hearing stories of ‘Oh, this is what we had to do because of this,’ it’s cool, especially since it’s something you’ve done, you know where they’ve been and seeing them go through that process is really cool, it’s always impressive.”

Solar cars are different from the others, mechanical engineering graduate student and solar project manager Ian Burress said.

“We’re the only team here who’s allowed on a public road,” Burress said. “This car’s owned by Texas A&M, and it is a road legal vehicle … Our cycle is two years, but it’s quite a costly car to build. It costs probably double about what the other teams are, and we also race [and] our competition is every two years.”

The Solar Team’s car being displayed on March 24, 2024 at Aggie Park.

While academics are crucial, it’s organizations like SAE that prepare well-rounded students to confidently step into their career path, Morrow said.

“Obviously, academics is really important,” Morrow said. “But the things that have helped me be successful in life, outside of just my degree, are the experiences that I had at Texas A&M as part of clubs, organizations, internships, those really give you a lot of those tools to be successful when you graduate and you go pursue whatever you’re passionate about, whatever your purpose is in the working world.”

Formula E suspension sub team member Matthew Cain said he advises those interested to join the SAE Development program he will be leading in the fall, as all students are welcome to join.

“I hope to see the majority of people there,” Cain said. “Because without people in that program, without people wanting to be on our teams, we won’t last for another 100 years. We need everyone out here to keep this tradition going. It’s A&M, we’re tradition based, it’s already over 100 years old, we can keep it going.”

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  • A

    Adrian SalgadoMar 26, 2024 at 1:35 pm

    Nice photos!

  • S

    Sandra LuthieMar 26, 2024 at 11:32 am

    Great job everyone! We are the very proud grandparents of Ian Burress/Solar Car Team.