SVSU Professor Earns Award for World’s Top College Racing Mentor
SVSU Professor Earns Award for World’s Top College Racing Mentor

The professor who started the Cardinal Formula Racing program at Saginaw Valley State University, and has led the student-run team to four top-20 finishes since 2002, has been honored by his leading peers. Brooks Byam, professor of mechanical engineering and adviser to SVSU’s formula racing team, received the 2013 Carroll Smith Mentor’s Cup during the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers Collegiate Design Series at Michigan International Speedway May 11.

The award has been given to one faculty mentor each year since 1999. It was established to honor the legendary hot-rodder Carroll Smith, who died in 2003, and who was a firm believer in motorsports and in the Society of Automotive Engineers collegiate programs. Each year’s winner is selected by past recipients of the award.

“Brooks was selected due to his very active participation with the students in Formula SAE competition, plus his activities in drawing attention to FSAE and SVSU,” said Bob Woods, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Texas-Arlington and chair of the selection committee. “Brooks has hosted events on his campus and showed his team’s cars at various venues around Michigan. He joins a very prestigious list of faculty advisers who have received this honor.”

Over the course of a year, members of SVSU’s Cardinal Formula Racing team designs and builds an Indy-style race car to be judged according to a 99-page rule book in categories such as acceleration, endurance and fuel economy, as well as non-racing events such as cost, presentation and marketing. The 2013 team placed second in the world in acceleration en route to a 51st place finish out of the top 120 international college racing programs.

SVSU has developed a strong tradition in FSAE competition with four top-20 finishes, placing sixth in 2002, eighth in 2005, 14th in 2008 and 18th in 2010. Several past team members have continued to engineering careers in NASCAR and other racing series, as well as leading automotive manufacturers.

To be considered for the award, a faculty adviser must be involved in the U.S. Formula Society of Automotive Engineers competition. The mentor will have guided the students relative to the technical aspects of the car, the management and organizational challenges of the team, made arrangements through the university for facilities and equipment, facilitated fund raising for the car and travel, helped obtain publicity and visibility for the university, set a positive attitude, and been a role model for the team. The key element to the selection each year is that the mentor will have given much of their personal time and expertise to help the students become professional engineers.