The Oakland University Society of Automotive Engineering is displaying their new 2013 open-wheeled race car at the North American International Auto Show for the third year in a row.
The race car, Grizzlies Racing 2013, or GRX3, is on display in COBO Center in downtown Detroit from Jan. 18-27. Jason Murgagh, marketing and business manager for SAE, said he contacted the Auto Show back in August to reserve a spot.
Murgagh said since they first attended the Auto Show, the group has kept in contact with show workers to help them secure spots each year.
With the show being a big event, Murgagh said it was imperative for SAE to get a booth.
“Because this event is a significant event for the auto industry, I figure it’s a good opportunity to get our name and the school’s name out there,” Murgagh said. “However, we ran into a little hiccup because of the construction being done to COBO Hall.”
Instead of being on display in Michigan Hall as it has been in the past, the student organization will be on display in the basement of the COBO Center along with other Formula SAE organizations.
“It’s almost like a mini-competition,” Murgagh said.
The norm for the group
Outside of displaying GRX3 at the NAIAS, the student organization competes in design contests, according to SAE president Tom Garvey.
“We have to completely design, build and test an open-wheeled race car, all in a year,” Garvey said. “Not only do we design a four-wheel car, we also have to create a background for it.”
Garvey said a presentation for the car is a must in the competition, during which they have to sell themselves to a panel of judges.
“We create a mock-company and we’re judged on how well our mock-company is,” Garvey said. “We’re pretty much a mock-business model preparing ourselves for the real world, so we do these competitions every year to get the experience.”
Garvey said the student org is continuously growing and business students are getting involved as well.
“There is a lot to engineering besides building and design,” Garvey said. “There is an entire sales presentation involved and a lot of finances, as well as, marketing.”
On a typical day, SAE members hang out at their garage, which is located next to the OU Police Department, working on upcoming projects.
SAE participates in additional auto events besides the NAIAS.
Garvey said because SAE participates in a lot of shows, he has been working closely with the business school.
“We go to the Concours d’Elegance car show, it’s one of the biggest auto shows in Michigan and is well-known around the world,” he said.
SAE also participates in the Woodward Dream Cruise.
“We have a spot outside of Duggan’s Irish Pub on Woodward in Royal Oak,” Garvey said. “We’ve actually had several news interviews with local stations like WXYZ Channel 7 and WDIV Channel 4 because of our station outside of the Irish pub.”
He said the group goes to many local auto racing events based around Metro Detroit, and has hosted on-campus events with Chrysler.
Garvey said this year, OU faculty and admissions will also be accompanying them at the Auto Show and the Grizz mascot will make an appearance Jan. 23.
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