Since December, the College of Engineering has been a little louder than usual.
Screwdrivers, hammers and discussion could be heard from around the school as a team of mechanical engineers came together to build a car to be featured in the Philadelphia Auto Show, which ran from Feb. 8-16 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Last year, Philadelphia Auto Show representatives approached the group’s senior leader, mechanical engineering major Michael Samuels, and his team to make a model car. That day, the challenge and sleepless nights began.
Samuels said he pulled all-nighters at least twice a week to progress on the project, but that’s nothing new.
“We make cars every year,” Samuels said. “It is the same cramming for any other year making cars for competitions.”
However, this is the first time a team from Temple’s mechanical engineering program has had a car featured in the annual Auto Show.
“This year we got really lucky to have this opportunity to be featured in a big event like the Auto Show,” Samuels said.
For the last two years, the team has traveled to the Michigan International Speedway and to competitions in Ontario, Canada to present their car projects.
All of the competitions they attend are budgeted each year by the university. Regardless, travel expenses still add to the team’s stress and time, especially if they occur during finals week, as mechanical engineer major Aderoju Muftau-Ledijju experienced.
“The thought of joining was stressful, thinking of how school would be with catching up on work and finals,” Muftau-Lediju said. “Also stressing about the perfection of the car around the time of finals is nerve-racking, too.”
Each year, the team’s car has to go through a strict inspection, and if one thing is wrong, competition representatives will not allow the car to be displayed. Therefore, the team has to extremely careful with their allotted budget. One irreversible mistake could cost them.
“The school sees us as a money pit,” Samuels said. “This program just started back up two years ago and I have seen it almost fail because running the full budget can be risky.”
With Samuels as the leader of the team, it’s his responsibility to handle the budget. The team also fundraises some of their own money by selling T-shirts.
Luckily, the team said they’ve learned from the stress. The long hours spent together, they said, has caused them to bond much more than before.
“After being in this program for five years, the team has become stronger than ever,” Samuels said. “It is more organized, and we had a good amount of people helping compared to the six people last year.”
John Maruskanic, a 2013 graduate of the College of Engineering, said the outcome of the car show has been better than expected. He spent most of the days there and said he was delighted with the positive feedback.
“The most asked question was, ‘What is this?’” Maruskanic said. “After a brief explanation of what Temple Formula Racing was, most people were surprised to hear that Temple offered something like this. A lot of people couldn’t believe that the car they were looking at was made only by undergraduate students.”
The team said they hope to gain more recognition for their work and the program after their appearance in the Auto Show.
“People don’t always see the work we put in.” Muftau-Lediju said. “But we have each other like brothers and sisters. I hope the show will bring more attention to our program and people know about us. I always loved cars, and I didn’t even know about this opportunity until my sophomore year.”
After recycling their two previous cars, putting a new one together, tuning the engine and hoping for perfection, this year’s mechanical engineering team can say they’re the first from the College of Engineering to be featured in the Auto Show. They were the only team from a college or university in the show as well.
“It’s the car itself that brings us together,” Muftau-Lediju said.
Karlina Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org