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Formula Student USA: Teaching Young People Skills for the Real World

FS USA participants build a formula style race car from scratch.

Students participate at a recent FS USA event.

The FS USA program is designed to teach students hands-on engineering and technical skills.

Formula Student USA (FS USA) is a program that has high school students build a formula style race car from scratch, and then compete against other schools in a controlled racing time-trial event.

The program was created to provide students who are interested in motorsports, engineering and technology with a realistic outlet to showcase their skills and talents.

Each team is responsible for constructing a vehicle to a strict set of guidelines. These guidelines help the students construct a safe vehicle that closely resembles the current SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Formula First race vehicle. The focus of the project is to help the students develop vital engineering and technical skills. The program is currently operating in several states, but is looking to expand.

The Formula High School is the idea of Mike Besel and Jeremie Meyer, high school technology and engineering instructors from Wisconsin. Meyer based the design on the Formula First race car. It needed to be built in a simple way using off-the-shelf parts. A lot of the first cars were based on Volkswagen beetle parts, which have since become hard to find and expensive.

"Jeremie started working on a new design where he cut many of the parts locally, and it was at that time I got involved," said Jim Radmann, who brought the program to Cedarburg High School in Wisconsin. "We started building a new generation of FS USA cars where the CAD designs could be shared, and each school could eventually cut their own parts on plasma cutters and waterjet systems."

Cedarburg High School has since had four graduates who all earned their road race licenses, and have gone on to study mechanical engineering. Radmann's son Rob joined the program as a sophomore, when the program first started. He is now a freshman at Milwaukee School of Engineering studying mechanical engineering, where he is mentoring other students and working with college clubs. "If young people find their passion early in life, and then they set a goal and work at it, they see results," said Radmann. "What we can all do is fuel that passion."

The FS USA program is designed to teach students engineering design, manufacturing processes, welding skills, CNC machine set-up and operation and more. They use lathes, waterjets and plasma cutters, and even lay up the fiberglass for the body themselves.

"I want to expand that basic program across the country now," said Radmann. "If a school is not able to support a curriculum, we can create a club where multiple schools in an area can participate. There are many ways and goals to 'train the trainer' this year that I want to establish. I am looking for that support now. We have a current budget, parts lists, CAD drawings and everything needed to support the program. What we cannot seem to find is a large enough company that wants to make this their state's STEM or Foundations endeavor for young men and women."

Radmann is also working on a program for middle school students to do the same build, but using a 3D printer version at 1/5 scale. "This builds upon the idea that we start introducing students to engineering in motorsports, and build the program into high school and eventually into a career," he said.

For more information contact:

Jim Radmann


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