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JP Latham

JP2020

Student Competitions Channel

Discuss the variety of competitions available to educators and students. Tell us how you’re getting on, or even find a new challenge.

Student Competitions Channel

Discuss the variety of competitions available to educators and students. Tell us how you’re getting on, or even find a new challenge.

Knights Racing UCF (FSAE) @ the Daytona 24 Hours

Posted by: JP2020 - Posted: March 9, 2021

Here’s an interesting insight from Knights Racing UCF a Formula Student team from the USA that we recently ‘bumped into’ over on Instagram. We came across one of their posts showcasing that they had several of their team members take part in the Rolex 24 at Daytona back in January.

Anyway, we got chatting to Rebecca Vollmann, their Outreach Director (FSAE) and asked her a few questions to get to know them better, and what involvement the students had, here’s what they had to say:

Q1. Firstly, we’d be interested to know what your team member roles and responsibilities were during the event and how did this opportunity was presented to you.

A1. Although getting real-world work experience is a concept encouraged by the University, it is not required. However, it yields more well-rounded students in the process, something FSAE really drives home to its members.

We have one current member who serves as a data engineer on the pit crew. He works to ensure his team’s racecar is not pushed beyond the limits of performance and safety and analyzes peak vehicle output in relation to endurance racing to optimize race performance.  A few of the other club alumni also do the same thing, but may also differ in responsibilities due to the variety in team organization with every racer.

Q2. Sounds great, data is a crucial area and role on any racing team, so what other important areas have your team been able to become involved in?

A2. The rest of the team did hospitality work, largely unrelated to engineering as a whole, but extremely valuable for networking in the motorsport community. We work in Rolex Lounge and 500 Club, also having access to the suites at Daytona International Speedway. The responsibilities attached to hospitality roles include maintaining “secure” access to these prestigious ticketed areas. The individuals in these clubs are extremely friendly (especially because they love seeing familiar faces and we have been volunteering there for several years with SAE) and enjoy talking to our volunteers about motorsport racing and advances in race tech.

Q3. The hospitality work sounds interesting, of course, at the other end of the spectrum in terms of what a team does but is equally as important. So what kind of things did the team discuss to keep guests ‘entertained’?

A3. We answer questions about the progress of the race (if postponements occur, usually due to weather) as answers are relayed to us by the DIS executive team. This has lead to many team sponsorships, club donations, and professional connections in the motorsport or performance racing industry, which have led to internships and full-time jobs after graduation for some students on the team.

This volunteer event emphasized professional development within the multi-faceted world of racing for our members and allows for team-bonding over a shared interest, all while getting our members close to the action, something that incites passion in all of us for what we do in FSAE.

Q4. So aside from the engineering and hospitality areas during the event, which sounds fantastic, what range of drivers did you come into contact with and support during the event?

A4. Here are the drivers/teams we were able to work with this year: Honda TCR Type R racers #73, 84, 88, and 94 (the one current member serves pit crew with Honda). NSX racer #94. Murillo Racing #65. Rebel Rock #71. Ferrari #56. BMW #100 (specifically worked with Rahal).

Q5. Wow, so a wide range of drivers, what were the highlights for any of the team members?

A5. There are so many, but here’s a quote from one of our team members Ryan.

“The highlight of working the Rolex 24 for me was being able to see my team in person. It became increasingly frustrating having to do everything virtually, especially as a new member trying to advance in the club. Daytona gave me the opportunity to get closer with my teammates and ever since I’ve been helping a lot more hands-on.” – Ryan Workowski, joined Fall 2020

Q6. Has this experience led to potential jobs for any of them? You mention this sometimes occurs, what sort of jobs have been secured in the past and with what sort of organizations in motorsport?

A6. Through networking opportunities presented at DIS races, including Rolex 24, and general team experience we have members that have obtained jobs such as Chassis Mount Engineer at FCA, Materials/Process Engineer at Michelin, Automotive Technician at Honda, Driveline DRE at Ford Motor Co., Advanced Product Engineering Designer at Cummins, and Powertrain Engineer at Nissan.

Thanks to the team for their interesting insight into their involvement at the event, we look forward to bring you more news on their activities in the near future.

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