Formula SAE

Formula SAE

Looking to join Iowa State University’s largest Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) organization? If so, Cyclone Racing’s Formula team gives students hands-on experience and the opportunity to learn and compete like a professional racing team.

The team designs, builds, tests, and races a formula-style race car each year to compete with approximately 450 teams from all around the world at several Formula SAE Series events.

Formula is one of the various student organizations that manufacture in the assembly bay located in the basement of the Student Innovation Center.

Photo provided by Formula SAE


The Formula team has seven engineering subsystems and one business subsystem, which split up the design, manufacturing and business operations of the team. All of the subsystems work with the common goal of designing and building a custom single-seat race vehicle to be competitive on an international level.

  • Aerodynamics: is responsible for creating wings, an undertray and other pieces of bodywork that create downforce while also trying to minimize drag. All of the carbon fiber components are designed and produced in-house by student members.
  • Chassis: is responsible for designing the frame and driver safety components of the vehicle. The subsystem utilizes composite and metallic materials to manufacture its components.
  • Controls: is responsible for almost everything the driver sees and touches. This includes the pedals, steering wheel, paddle shifters and dashboard. 
  • Electrical: is responsible for developing and implementing technology in a way that can be used to the advantage of the rest of the team. This includes the utilization of wireless capabilities, microcontrollers, and embedded systems.
  • Final drive:  is in charge of taking the power from the engine and putting it to the wheels. This includes picking a final drive ratio, as well as designing and manufacturing multiple components. 
  • Powertrain: is responsible for the engine and supporting systems such as cooling, fueling, engine management, intake and exhaust. Additionally, the powertrain is responsible for engine calibration and building the adjacent electrical system.
  • Suspension: utilizes tire analysis, kinematic design, data collection and simulation software to connect the car with the ground in the most efficient way possible. 
  •  Business:  is responsible for gathering sponsorships, organizing outreach events, ordering parts and interacting with social media tools. The team uses a mixture of skills that utilize accounting, financing, management, marketing, public relations and sales.


Formula participates in various national competitions to put their vehicles to the test against numerous colleges and universities. 

The competition uses different static and dynamic events to contribute to a team’s score. Static events showcase a team’s business and marketing strategy, while the dynamic events put the actual vehicle to the test in a track setting.

The team operates mostly on private sponsorships such as Midwest Metal Products, State Steel and more. 

If you are looking to join, meetings are held every Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the Horticulture building room 0118, or visit their website

Want to bring your student organization to the Student Innovation Center? We have shared student organization suites that would be the perfect meeting space for your group! Learn more and submit your office request at

By Mallory Tope, Communications Assistant | Published February 14, 2022