Walk by the Morewood parking lot on a given day and you’ll see a group of CMU students test-driving a racecar. These students are a part of the campus organization, Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), and the racecar you see them driving is built and designed by those very same students. Elena Yasinski, a senior Mechanical Engineering major, is the Vice President of Race Operations and has been a crucial member of Formula for the past few years.
Elena became involved in Formula her sophomore year after she discovered her strong passion for engineering. She began attending general body meetings and got involved in her first project. “A friend and I were tasked with figuring out how to remove several gears from the transmission of the motorcycle engine we used to power our cars. After taking apart at least 3 of these engines and putting them back together, we successfully removed 3 gears from the transmission while preventing shifting into the ‘ghost’ gears. After that, I was hooked.”
One of Elena’s favorite memories from her time in Formula was the first time she got to drive a racecar that they built. The team frequently tests their cars in the Morewood parking lot, creating a coned course, and timing their test drives. “When it was my turn, I was very nervous and excited because I had never driven a Formula car, or even a standard,” she said. “Afterwards, I was surprised and proud to find out that my times were faster than some of the guys who had driven before.” She has high hopes for what the team can accomplish this school year. Last year, they placed 3rd in the Formula Hybrid competition and 6th in Formula Electric at Lincoln, and Elena believes that they can place even higher this year.
Since her sophomore year, Elena has devoted a great amount of her time to Formula. When asked what she loved most about it, she said, “I love so much about Formula—the engineering challenges and experience, the rush of driving, and the people.” After she graduates, Elena plans to work on innovation and product development in industry—something that she’s always loved, and something that Formula has expanded her horizons to.