As per the official Formula SAE website:
The SAE International Formula SAE program is an engineering design competition for undergraduate and graduate students. The competition provides participants with the opportunity to enhance their engineering design and project management skills by applying academic classroom theories in a challenging competition. The engineering design goal for teams is to develop and construct a single-seat race car for the non-professional weekend autocross racer with the best overall package of design, construction, performance, and cost.
The concept behind Formula SAE is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a design team to develop a small Formula-style race car. The prototype race car is to be evaluated for its potential as a production item. The target marketing group for the race car is the non-professional weekend autocross racer. Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules whose purpose is both to ensure onsite event operations and promote clever problem solving. The vehicle will be inspected in a series of tests to ensure it complies with the competition rules; in addition, the vehicle with driver will be judged in a number of performance tests on track. The rest of the judging is completed by experts from motorsports, automotive, aerospace and supplier industries on student design, cost and sales presentations.
Formula SAE promotes careers and excellence in engineering as it encompasses all aspects of the automotive industry including research, design, manufacturing, testing, developing, marketing, management, and finances.
Today, the competition has expanded and includes a number of spin-off events. In the United States, there are two locations: Michigan and Nebraska; Michigan being the largest event and longest running.
Internationally, as part of the Official Formula SAE Series utilizing the Formula SAE Rules Copyright under signed agreement are:
Formula SAE Australasia
Formula SAE Brazil
Formula SAE Italy
Formula Student (UK)
Formula Student Austria
Formula Student Germany
Formula SAE Japan (http://students.sae.org/cds/formulaseries/about)
The event consists of a number of events on the basis of which a team is judged: