University of Akron's Zips racing team ranked 8th in the world

Race car designed, built by engineering students

AKRON, Ohio - If your team name is Zips Racing, you better create a car built for speed.

Engineering students at the University of Akron were up to the challenge and manufactured a sleek, 350-pound formula race car that is currently ranked eighth best in the world out of nearly 500 universities or colleges.

"We were looking for opportunities to move into the top 10 and really make a name for Akron, make a name for the university," said Ryan Kruse, a senior student from Willoughby Hills.

Each year, teams of students get together to design and manufacture a car, which has eight different subsystems, including engine, breaks and suspension.

Assembly of the the vehicle, which has a 56-horsepower engine, takes place between January and March. That's followed by thorough performance and driver training testing.

The latest model, ZR 13, performed well in competitions in Michigan and Germany this year, leading to the jump in the world rankings.

Formula Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) race cars are judged on speed, cost, innovation design and other aspects.

In Germany, the ZR 13 placed sixth overall for on-track performance categories such as as acceleration, autocross, skid-pad and endurance; and off-track for cost, design and marketing.

The top speed for the car is 75 to 80 miles per hour, but the average speed is about 45 to 50 mph because it's built for agility, and the courses have many tight corners.

Kevin Musial, who is the engine team leader, is also one of the drivers.

"It's very fast and it's like nothing you can really drive on the road... we're pulling upward of 2 1/2 to 3G's in cornering. It's also a big rush when you get out on the track because you spent nine months of your life building this car," Musial said.

Many of the engineering students hope to land jobs in the automotive field after graduation and being a part of the racing team gives them an advantage.

"It's a great experience as far as brining us into the employment world. You have experience that you don't get in school," Musial said.

On Oct. 19, the car will race against 18 other schools at the University of Toronto Shootout, which is an exhibition event. The Zips Racing Team won the event last year.

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