Automotive Engineering Students Test the Limits with Force Measurement

Interface has a long history of supporting higher education in force measurement, empowering students to explore and innovate in STEM fields.

A prime example of this commitment is our collaboration with Gopher Motorsports, a student engineering group at the University of Minnesota that designs and builds race cars for the annual Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Series. Interface fuels student innovation by bridging the gap between theory and track with precision force measurement tools, as detailed in this case study.

The Challenge: Building Top-Performing Race Cars for Competition

Each year, Gopher Motorsports aims to design and build two vehicles, one internal combustion (ICE) and one electric (EV), to compete in the global Formula SAE Series. The competition demands speed and performance on the track, meticulous engineering, efficient manufacturing, and sound business planning.

To meet these rigorous criteria, Gopher Motorsports needed a reliable and accurate force measurement solution to optimize their car’s performance. They turned to Interface and our partner, Minnesota Measurement Engineering Inc., for expert guidance and state-of-the-art equipment.

The Solution: Interface Mini Load Cells for Precise Data Acquisition

Interface recommended several Mini Load Cells ideal for Gopher Motorsports’ needs. They utilized:

The load cells were strategically mounted in line with the suspension on their Go4-23c vehicle. This setup allowed the team to collect crucial data during extensive track testing sessions, enabling them to fine-tune their suspension system for optimal performance.

The Results: Lighter, Stronger Parts and a Competitive Edge

The data acquired using Interface’s load cells proved invaluable for Gopher Motorsports. As Jacob Henderson, a team member, stated, “Based on the data from the SM-1000 Load Cells, we will be able to update load cases through all the suspension components to more accurately simulate our system response to loading before the parts are ever manufactured. This will allow our parts to be lighter and stronger!

Interface’s support, including a student discount on the load cells, made this critical testing possible. By providing Gopher Motorsports with the tools they needed to gather accurate force data, Interface played a key role in their quest to build competitive race cars.

Interface: Your Partner in Higher Education STEM Innovation

This case study showcases Interface’s dedication to empowering the next generation of engineers and scientists. By providing top-notch force measurement solutions and collaborating with educational institutions like the University of Minnesota, Interface helps students translate theoretical knowledge into practical skills and push the boundaries of innovation.

Formula SAE isn’t just a competition; it’s a launchpad for the next generation of engineering superstars. Student colleagues, fueled by passion and ingenuity, design, build, and race a sleek, open-wheeled race car. That’s the essence of Formula SAE, an international collegiate competition organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

If you’re involved in a university or college STEM program and require reliable force measurement solutions, Interface is here to help. Contact our experienced team today to discuss your needs and explore how we can support your educational endeavors.

Together, let’s build a brighter future through the power of STEM education and accurate force measurement!


Race Car Suspension Testing App Note

Building a Championship Race Car

Gopher Motorsports Takes Force Measurement Optimization to the Track

Interface Automotive Force Measurement Solutions

A Visit to The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab

Read the entire case study:

Gopher Motor Sports Takes Force Measurement Optimization to the Track Case Study

Interface Launches New University Program

Interface is investing in the engineers of tomorrow with our new Interface University Program.  The new STEM-focused initiative promotes innovation and education by providing access to the best force measurement products, services, and experts in the industry.

As the world’s leader in force measurement solutions, Interface created the specialized Interface University Program to provide discounted products and services, educational materials and access to renowned test and measurement expertise.

The distinct Interface University Program offers higher education institutions and students reductions on the industry’s most accurate and reliable force measurement standard products and calibration services to accelerate research and development, advance science, perform accurate testing, and promote exploration.

Through the unique program, Interface is also providing educational support in the form of internships, R&D projects, sponsored test and measurement class projects, grants, and community STEM program support.

“Our goal is to empower engineering students to achieve their educational and career goals with the help of our exclusive Interface University Program,” said Joel Strom, CEO, Interface. “The program will make critical engineering tools, services and professional support more accessible to universities and colleges faculty and engineering students. This program provides best in class test and measurement products, specialized solution bundles and discounts on products and services that will enrich engineering and metrology program experiences.”

The Interface University Program

Interface Standard Products:

  • Get Started Bundle with Interface LowProfile®, Sealed S-Type and Mini Beam Load Cells, Torque Transducer, Indicator and more at 25% off
  • Load Cell 101 Field Guide by Interface Engineers
  • 10% off all standard products and additional loyalty program discount programs

Interface Calibration and Repair Services:

  • Tiered Calibration Services Program discounts
  • Expedited repair services with special discounts
  • 25% off 3-year annual calibration services programs for maintenance

Education Support and Resources:

  • Internships for R&D at Interface HQ in Arizona
  • R&D projects
  • Sponsored test and measurement class projects or challenges
  • Failure testing projects
  • Onsite engineering hours: class, speaking, events

Interface provides force measurement solutions and services to hundreds of universities coast-to-coast and around the world every year. The company’s founder, Richard F. Caris, was a major proponent of charitable giving to STEM-focused institutions and programs. In 2015, Caris donated $20 million to the University of Arizona Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab to support the construction of mirrors used for the Giant Magellan Telescope. The Mirror Lab has utilized Interface products in its mirror polishing process for the past twenty years.

“Interface has been a long-time partner of the University of Arizona,” said Buell Jannuzi, Ph.D., Steward Observatory director and head of the Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona. “Their commitment to STEM and support of the Mirror Lab has been critical to our efforts, as well as the education of our students.”

For more information on the program and for a detailed breakdown of special offers, services, and educational support, please visit /university-program/ or contact our Application Engineers at 480-948-5555.


University Program Overview

University Program 2 Page


A Visit to The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab

In 2015, Interface’s visionary founder Richard F. Caris had many legacies, one of which is the donation he made to The University of Arizona’s (UA) Mirror Lab. This endowment was a testament to his unwavering commitment to innovation, exploration, and science. Because of his deep personal interest and generous donation to the lab, UA named it the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab.

At the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, scientists, engineers, and technicians are developing large, lightweight mirrors with unparalleled surface accuracy. The actual mirrors are helping to advance science and discovery around the world with the new generation of optical telescopes that can explore the universe through optical and infrared light. The actual mirrors developed at the lab represent a sweeping departure from the old conventional solid-glass mirrors.

Buell Tomasson Jannuzi, Jeffrey Kingsley, Ted Larson, Ken Vining in front of GMT Primary Mirror Segment 5 (S5). Photo Credit: Damien Jemison UA

Interface’s Chief Engineer Ken Vining and VP of Product Management and Marketing Ted Larson recently took a trip to Tucson, Arizona, to get an up close and personal view of the advancements that have been made over the last four years at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab. The experience is breathtaking for anyone that gets the opportunity to visit the lab.

Although the lab has been using Interface’s load cells long before 2015, the purpose of the Caris donation was to aid in the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) with the lab’s revolutionary mirror casting capabilities.

These primary mirrors for the GMT are described as “a marvel of modern engineering and glassmaking.” Five of the seven 8.4-meter segmented mirrors have been cast thus far. The first mirror is complete and the other four are in various stages of production.

Completing any telescope project is a significant time commitment. In the last four years, a few segments have been cast. The project is expected to run until 2027. Although completing the GMT is a long-term endeavor, the lab is starting to think about future projects.

During Interface’s recent visit, our engineers made sure to provide careful guidance on product selection to promote future achievements and inventions.

The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab team has all these ideas they’re thinking about and we knew if they engaged Interface early, we could help them solve a lot of problems.” – Ken Vining, Chief Engineer at Interface

While our experts were touring the Mirror Lab, they also discussed our new Interface University Program that provides special incentives for students and higher education programs. Interface knows that when programs learn with the best force measurement products, they can advance their learnings and encourage future innovations.

One of the additional benefits from the onsite visit was advancing Interface and the Mirror Lab’s collaboration in providing additional technical education, support, and resource to UA engineering students and Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab personnel. Interface has developed a variety of topics for educational seminars, including humidity’s effect on load cell performance, the basics of metrology, how to properly calibrate a load cell, and the impact of high elevation on load cells.

In case you’re curious about the last topic, elevation doesn’t have much of an effect on load cell performance. However, a telescope of this magnitude can test the boundaries like no other.  It is 18,000 feet at installation altitude, which gets a telescope above the ‘dirty’ parts of Earth’s atmosphere. If you are looking to learn more about the Interface University Program, contact us here.

Interface was founded in 1968 by Richard F. Caris.  You can read more about our history here.  If you would like to tour The University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, you can get tickets online.  Tours are Monday through Friday at 1 pm, and as available at 3 pm. Click here for tickets and information.

About UA:  Established in 1885, the University of Arizona, the state’s super land-grant university with two medical schools, produces graduates who are real-world ready through its 100% Engagement initiative. Recognized as a global leader and ranked 16th for the employability of its graduates, the UA is also a leader in research, bringing more than $622 million in research investment each year, and ranking 21st among all public universities. The UA is advancing the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships and is a member of the Association of American Universities, the 62 leading public and private research universities. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $8.3 billion annually.