Aztec Electric Racing plans to race to the top


by Emely Navarro, News Editor

Aztec Electric Racing made a strong entrance to San Diego State this semester with more than 100 club sign-ups after the first meeting.

Kelsey Winter, a mechanical engineer graduate student, and Greg Sawvelle, a mechanical engineer senior created the club.

Winter and Sawvelle were originally a part of Aztec Racing, another club on campus that builds internal combustion formula racing cars, which run on gas.

After completing the formula one car with Aztec Racing, Winter said they realized making electric vehicle cars was really where the future was moving to.

“Eventually we are going to have to move there because fuel is not necessarily a sustainable source of energy unless we change the type of fuel that we are running our cars off of,” Winter said. “Obviously it is a cleaner air source.”

After realizing the future was moving towards more sustainable cars, Winter and Sawvelle decided to start an electric vehicle racing club while at a  Formula Society of Automotive Engineers competition because competing electric cars was still relatively new.

Winter said getting into the competition early is easier because they can see it evolve over the years and get on the ground floor working on the cars while everyone is on the same level.

Aztec Electric Racing and Aztec Racing participate in the  same competitions and build the same but AER’s cars are electrically powered.

Their first competition is the Formula SAE Electric competition that will take place in June 2017 in Nebraska.

The club is preparing for the completion in three phases: design, manufacturing and testing.

They plan to spend 100 days on each phase.

Dec. 1 is the end of the design phase. They begin building the car over winter break and by spring break they will begin to test the car.

This year the goal of the team is to win first place at the competition. Next year the goal is to take the car internationally, Winter said.

The club will be applying for the Student Success Fee but is currently receiving funding from student dues, corporate sponsorships and a university sponsorship.

The estimate for the building budget is $75,000 for the first year and about $50,000 for the car next year, Winter said.

So far, the club has gotten its members from tabling at orientations and from people crossing over from the Aztec Racing club.

John Berger, a mechanical engineering freshman, joined the club this semester after seeing Winter and Sawvelle at his orientation.

“I’ve been extremely interested in racing cars for quite a while now and having the opportunity to build one myself was something I couldn’t pass up,” Berger said.

Winter and Sawvelle said they encourage people of all majors to join the club because there is more to it than building cars.

“We have structured this team like an engineering firm,” Winter said. “We need business people, we need graphic designers, it’s not just about building a car but it’s about building a racing team.”

They club meets biweekly on Fridays at 6 p.m. in the Pride Suite in the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.