Cody Howard
School of Engineering

Jayhawk Motorsports races to top spot in International Formula Car Contest

Tue, 06/24/2014

LAWRENCE — The race car team from the University of Kansas School of Engineering claimed the top overall spot at Formula SAE Lincoln, which was June 19-21 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Jayhawk Motorsports team was propelled to first place overall against a field of more than 70 competitors by earning first in the design and autocross categories and second place in acceleration and endurance. KU finished more than 50 points ahead of the second-place team.

“It’s really exciting and a true honor,” said Jill Langlas, Jayhawk Motorsports team leader and 2014 mechanical engineering graduate from Wheaton, Illinois. “We came in well-prepared and had a little luck in that everything held together and we didn’t get surprised by any breakdowns. It’s a thrill to come out on top against so many good teams.”

The competition requires students to design, build, then race a Formula-style race car during the course of the school year. The project is one of the capstone design courses in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and is taught by Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Robb Sorem, who also serves as faculty adviser for the team of students and student volunteers.

With temperatures in the mid-90s, heat and humidity played a key factor in the competition. The final event at Formula SAE Lincoln is the endurance competition – a 13.6 mile, 14-lap test of all aspects of the car. After a strong finish in several other events, KU had the advantage of being the last team to run on the endurance course.

“We saw a lot of cars overheat and teams fail endurance, so we just wanted to be consistent and not drive the car too hard. We knew if we were consistent in our performance and just finished, it would be a big bonus,” Langlas said. “We added a more powerful fan to keep the car cool as a precaution. We also changed our engine to lean tuning, which uses less fuel. We knew we didn’t have to push for the fastest time. Endurance is all about finishing, and that’s what we did.”

Langlas was also quick to attribute the team’s success to the skill of the two drivers, Nick Roberts and Trent Strunk.

“We knew we’d built a fast car, but having two great drivers is a big benefit. They were consistent in all the races and really brought out the most in the car,” Langlas said.

The competition also allowed Jayhawk Motorsports to showcase their engineering skills beyond the racetrack. KU placed first in the design category, which is set up to assess the theory behind the construction of the car.

“Such a strong showing in design is a great example of how well-rounded the engineering experience is at KU. It’s not just about making the fastest car. We have to test the car, document the testing procedures, analyze the data and present that to judges in a clear, comprehensive way,” Langlas said. “That’s a great reflection on Dr. Sorem’s vision for the program. Sorem focuses on creating good engineers, and it shows in the team’s performance year after year.”

This is the second time in program history – and second time in three years – that Jayhawk Motorsports has finished first overall at a Formula car competition. The 2014 team joins the 2012 squad in taking first overall at Formula SAE Lincoln.

Langlas said a strong network of support, guidance and feedback from previous team members helps maintain the success of Jayhawk Motorsports.

“Alumni support is critical for us. Former team members learn things in their jobs that benefit the team and they’re quick to share that knowledge with us and lend a hand. Their involvement is a real benefit,” Langlas said.

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Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here:
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

RT @kulibraries : Check out this news feature & then check out his book with us: #KULibraries #KUWorks…
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

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