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Research at the Motorsport Engineering Research Center

The Motorsport Engineering program moved to the current site in fall of 2002. Students and faculty began presenting results of motorsport-related research later that same year, in Dearborn, at the 2002 SAE Motorsport Engineering Conference. Students and faculty continue to generate new findings that relate to the motorsport industry, and have presented papers at each of the SAE Motorsport Engineering Conferences since 2002. In Fall of 2005, the research complex became a named center at Colorado State University, the Motorsport Engineering Research Center (MERC). Professor Radford became the first MERC center director.
The research at the MERC has four primary focus areas; Advanced Materials, Aerodynamics, Engines Technology, and Vehicle Dynamics. More specific information related to current projects in those areas can be found on the "Research" tab of this website, under each of the focus areas.

Program Research
Program research, such as the results presented in this website, is not only funded by companies supporting the motorsport and performance industries. In certain cases the findings generated, based on applications in the motorsport industry, are transferred to other industries and are supported by those industries.
PhD and Master's students work on a variety of projects at the MERC, including projects ranging from highly computational to largely experimental in nature. Students enter the program with an interest in one of the research areas, and are immediately teamed with an appropriate faculty advisor.
Companies interested in sponsoring research at the MERC can contact any of the faculty listed on the "People" menu item; however, for most practical purposes, the research areas and associated key faculty member follows:
  • Aerodynamics/CFD: Dr. Sakurai
  • Vehicle Dynamics:  Dr. Fitzhorn
  • Materials/Engines: Dr. Radford
Overview of Areas
Highlights of the four key areas of research at the MERC follow:

Advanced Materials
Fiber reinforced composites are the primary focus in this research area. Fundamental and applied resarch is underway at both the material and at the structures levels. One current research project is the development of fiber reinforced composite engine valves.

Lightweight composite intake valves.

Computational Fluid Dynamics of vehicles and airfoils has been the focus. Recent work has emphasized the effects aerodynamics at high yaw angles. This work has included windtunnel verification.
CFD pressure distribution

The current focus in the engines area relates to materials optimization for engines technology. Projects are underway related to the measurement of valve temperatures and in measuring engine friction using a floating-liner approach.

Valves with embedded thermocouples.

Vehicle Dynamics
Studies in vehicle dynamics are performed using both computational and experimental tools. On-track research can be performed using MERC data acquisition systems. Much of the focus is on damper testing and optimization utilizing the very flexible servo-hydraulic damper dynamometer.

Damper Dyno testing of Strut.

A Program in Mechanical Engineering, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1374