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For over 20 years, the Society of Automotive Engineers at Arizona State University has offered a unique experience for students of any major looking to take part in hands-on projects and competitions. SAE@ASU unites students from diverse fields and backgrounds to work together on five vehicle design projects.

These five projects are designed and developed by student members who compete in national and international competitions. According to Wade Gyllenhaal, the president of SAE@ASU and a senior in mechanical engineering, “SAE International hosts annual design competitions usually with 80-120 schools showcasing their vehicles designed specifically for the competitions.”

Because SAE@ASU is such a unique experience from class work and studies, student members find a greater sense of camaraderie. The new challenges that members face when designing and building their projects bring even greater team bonding and enjoyment at their successes.

In addition to competitions, SAE@ASU offers ample networking and educational opportunities to members. Guest lecturers speak at the group’s monthly meetings and student members have the opportunity to “participate in company tours, racing events, networking and social events, car shows, and this year the Engineering Open House,” says Gyllenhaal.

By familiarizing students with design processes, competitions and the automotive industry, SAE@ASU is providing experiences that students do not get in the classroom. Gyllenhaal explains that “SAE@ASU was created to fill a common void in engineering degree programs by providing an opportunity for hands-on application of classroom theory.”

It is important for students to exercise their knowledge in hands-on projects and activities. By working together, members of SAE@ASU see the application of their education in real-world situations whether in the budgeting, design, implementation or promotion of their work.

Modeling their organization after an engineering corporation, “SAE@ASU is a truly interdisciplinary student organization,” explains Gyllenhaal. To benefit the organization, it is necessary to have a variety of members extending from engineering fields to business operations.

Working alongside engineering students, members come from such diverse fields as “graphic design, finance, marketing, industrial design, management and computer information systems,” says Gyllenhaal. Each student plays an important role in the success of the projects, just as they would experience in a professional corporation.

Gyllenhaal explains that “SAE is connected with several engineering companies in the Valley that provide monetary contributions, materials, engineering services, mentors and employment opportunities.” A few of these companies include: Industrial Metal Supply (IMS), Profiles Tool and Engineering, KZell Metals, BAE Systems, Boeing, General Motors, Nissan, Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies (PADT), Phoenix Raceworks and Brandwood Cars.

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