Students bring autmotive engineering project to Willows

May 19, 2014 7:55 PM

In a sport where every second counts, a group of college-aged racing fans have designed a car part to hopefully put them ahead of the curve.

For their senior project, University of California Riverside mechanical engineering students Scott Bixel, Joshua Cooper, Dale Holtkamp and Tristan Littlehale built a spoiler that adjusts automatically with the help of an on-board computer.

“Normally for air foils you're set at a static degree and then they don’t move,” Holtkamp said. “The idea behind ours is it has an actuator that will move it up and down changing the angle of attack which is the angle of the wing relative to the ground plane.”

At Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows Monday, Littlehale and Holtkamp took it to the track and put it to the test: taking their supped-up 1997 BMW M3 up to 115 miles per hour all while using their self-adjusting spoiler to optimize performance with less drag on the straightaways and more handling on the corners.

“It’s reading all the force going from the actuator to the wing which is going to tell us the total amount of downforce coming off the back of the wing,” Holtkamp said.


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