SAE car displayed with global automotive supplier at 2014 NAIS

By Ali DeRees

Oakland University’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is featuring two of its formula racing cars at the 2014 North American International Show at Cobo Center. 

SAE president Sindy Zaki described the teams cars, their involvement at the auto show, and the sponsorships and grants they’ve received.

The 2013 GRX 3 is on display with DENSO on the main floor of the show and the 2012 GRX 2 is on display downstairs from the main floor.  

DENSO is a global automotive supplier that provided a $30,000 grant to OU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. Zaki said the money was used to buy tools that helped build the car’s powertrain system.

Both cars boast impressive racing records. The GRX 3 placed 23rd overall at the Formula SAE Michigan Race at Michigan International Speedway and the GRX 2 came in 3rd overall at the University of Toronto Shootout. 

Zaki says that the Auto Show is an event that is “more social for our team.”

Team members get to talk to various automotive suppliers, local area companies, and members of larger automotive companies such as Ford. Some of these employees and employers include OU alumni, according to Zaki. 

“We get to build relationships with employees, a lot of them are alumni,” Zaki said.

Local elementary and middle school students were able to come on education day this past Wednesday and check out OU’s cars, Zaki said. 

Overall, Zaki loves seeing people’s reactions to their cars and displays at the show.

“People enjoy seeing that OU has a lot more to offer,” Zaki said. 

The team also received a $5,000 grant from Chrysler.

Zaki describes the team’s relationship with Chrysler as “a working partnership”. 

The team and the Big 3 Company have done events such as Car Talk, in which Chrysler brought some vehicles to be displayed on campus and the SAE team did as well. The team also partnered with Chrysler in a SRT event in which Chrysler brought out some of their SRT vehicles and demonstrated their capabilities in the PI parking lot. 

The SAE team and their cars have been displayed at the Auto Show for the past four years. Their displays have attracted many students and current members, including Lead Frame and Body Engineer Tom Garvey. 

Garvey has been on the team for four years. He was so impressed with what he saw of SAE at the Auto Show that he decided to join the team. 

He said there are four people from the team on rotation each day at the show. He believes this kind of exposure is huge for the team. 

Right now the team is currently building the 2014 GRX 4. Garvey said he is finishing the rear of its frame so it can be painted. 

“Once you build the frame, people get more excited about building the car,” Garvey said. 

Garvey said this year’s new team has a lot of new faces but they also have a lot of potential. 

“We’ve got a lot of new members filling big shoes,” Garvey said. 

When it comes to racing cars, Garvey believes speed isn’t necessarily everything. 

“You want your car to look good too,” Garvey said with a smile. 


Contact Staff Reporter Ali DeRees at [email protected]