Race Engine Calibration for Optimal Performance e-Seminar

I.D.# PD130701ON
Access Period: 90 days
Duration: 7 Hours

The engine control module (ECM, or on-board computer) is the tool used to control the fuel injection rate, fuel injection timing, ignition timing, rate of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), and other functions. The task of "programming" the ECM is much easier for a race engine than for a production engine because the calibration engineer does not need to be concerned about emissions: EGR, keeping the exhaust catalyst "happy", etc.

In this e-Seminar, Professor Ron Matthews provides a practical introduction to ECMs, including the uses for the various sensors. He discusses the specific methods used to incorporate the various sensor signals into the ECM's control systems for the fuel injection rate, fuel injection timing, and ignition timing. Background information includes an understanding of the desired air/fuel ratio and optimum ignition timing. While examples are tailored around the application of the ECM to Formula SAE race engines, this e-Seminar is useful for improving any engineer's understanding of the functions of the ECM for other types of race engines as well as production engines.

Based on the popular classroom seminar, this course offers four and a half hours of instruction divided into six modules; more than two hours of bonus material and software demonstrations; and a glossary of acronyms, accompanied by a handbook.

Is this e-Seminar for You?
This e-Seminar is intended for anyone interested in engine calibration/programming the on-board computer, especially for race engines. At a minimum, classification as at least a junior in a curriculum leading to a BS degree in engineering or experience in engine development is necessary background for taking this course.

Formula SAE

Formula SAE Team Members are invited to participate in this e-Seminar at a special site license price. FSAE Faculty/Team Advisors may contact SAE Customer Service for details.

Have colleagues who need this course? See Special Offers to the right.

Click on the Requirements tab to make sure you are properly equipped to interact with this course.

0.7 CEUs

"This is a great class that teaches the basics of optimizing engine performance."
Jeff Niswander
Mechanical Engineer
NIU Motorsports

"A great start for race car tuning engineers or production engine engineers."
Craig Pike
Sr. Project Engineer
Nissan Technical Center North America

"The dynamics of the program and the competence of the presentation were a tribute to the core values of SAE and the engineering community commitment."
Rodger Marx
Principal Advisor Fuel Management
Rio Tinto

Prefer this course in person? Consider attending the classroom seminar Race Engine Calibration for Optimal Performance, or ask SAE Corporate Learning Solutions to bring it to your location.


By participating in this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe the functions of the crank position sensor, cam position sensor, intake air temperature sensor, manifold air pressure sensor, mass air flow sensor, exhaust "oxygen" or lambda sensor, throttle position sensor, engine coolant temperature sensor, and knock sensor
  • Explain how the ECM controls the fuel injection rate, fuel injection timing, and ignition timing
  • Interpret base look-up tables, multipliers, and adders
  • Develop base look-up tables, multipliers, and adders


Click on each topic for an expanded view.

  • Basic Engine Theory
  • ECM, Sensors, and Actuators
  • Air/Fuel Ratio Control
  • Ignition Timing
  • The Calibration Process
  • Conclusions
  • Bonus Material: Generating Base Fuel Look-up Tables using WAVE Software
  • Bonus Material: WAVE Software Demonstration
  • Bonus Material: Engine Control Units Demonstration

Instructor(s): Ronald D. Matthews

Professor Ron Matthews is Head of the General Motors Foundation Engines Research Laboratory on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. He has been actively involved in engines research for 35 years, including engine control systems since the initial introduction of on-board computers. Mr. Matthews is currently a member of the SAE International Board of Directors and an SAE Fellow. He founded the Formula SAE competition in 1981 and has been the Faculty Advisor for a Formula SAE team each year since. He has been author or co-author on over 200 technical papers and reports, mostly in the field of engines.

Materials Provided

  • 90 days of single-user access (from date of purchase) to the 4.5 hour course
  • Links to streaming video modules
  • Course Handbook (downloadable, .pdf's, subject to DRM)
  • Online Pre-test (self-test, immediate results)
  • Online Post-test (submit to SAE)
  • Instructor follow up to your content questions
  • 0.70 CEUs*/Certificate of Achievement (with satisfactory post-test score)
*SAE International is authorized by IACET to offer CEUs for this course.

About e-Seminars

SAE "e-Seminars" are electronically delivered seminars featuring full-motion video illustrated with synchronized presentation slides. e-Seminars are based on some of SAE's most highly attended and rated classroom seminars.

Equipment Requirements

  • Windows 7, 8 (Apple OSX and Unix/Linux are not supported but may work)
  • Pentium 4 PC
  • Minimum 512 MB RAM; recommended 1 GB RAM
  • Internet Explorer 10-11, Mozilla Firefox 37+, Google Chrome 42+ (Safari and Opera are not supported)
  • Broadband-1Mbps minimum

Online Access
Members save up to 20% off list price.
Have colleagues who need this course? Purchase access for one individual at the appropriate member or list price, then purchase access for up to four additional employees at 10% off the list price. Contact SAE Customer Service to arrange online access for all individuals at the same time or mention the confirmation number for the first purchase. The offer is good for only the same e-Seminar. All participants will receive a personal account and opportunity for CEUs.


Quantity discounts for six or more students and corporate access options also are available - complete a Corporate Learning Solutions Request Form for a quote.

Email CustomerService@sae.org, or call 1-877-606-7323 (U.S. and Canada) or 724-776-4970 (outside US and Canada).
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