Mizzou Racing Team provides hands-on experience for students

Tuesday, December 4, 2007 | 9:34 p.m. CST; updated 12:20 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

COLUMBIA — All semester MU student Andrew Blaquiere has been dealing with the challenges that typical college students face. He has taken tests and quizzes, written papers and tried to maintain a healthy social life.

But on top of all that, Blaquiere has spent around 30 hours every week helping put together a Formula One racecar. Blaquiere is the president of the Mizzou Racing Team and is preparing the car to compete in the Formula SAE Competition at Michigan International Speedway this May against approximately 120 other teams from around the world.

The Mizzou Racing Team has existed since 1985 and is an extracurricular organization that provides students with an opportunity to gain engineering and business experience that will make them attractive to potential employers after graduating.

The team is sponsored by the College of Engineering, which each year donates about $15,000 to the team of about 25 students. The students use the money to buy materials to build the car, which they then enter into the student design competition.

The competition is funded by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and is broken into two categories, static and dynamic events.

In the static events the car is judged based on criteria including the overall design of the car, the efficiency of how the money was spent and how marketable the car would be to potential buyers.

The dynamic events include a a 22-lap, 22-kilometer endurance race where one member races the car for 11 laps before turning off the car and letting another member finish the final 11 laps. The car is also judged based on its acceleration, how well it handles and how safe the car is to drive.

Blaquiere says that the biggest challenge he faces on the team has nothing to do with the actual building of the car.

“The biggest challenge is really getting individuals involved and getting them to be really committed because it is an extracurricular activity and there’s no mandatory time that you have to come,” he said. “We have the shop open 8 to 5 every day but you can come or you can leave. The biggest thing is getting people to stay and get really involved and to really get outside of thinking what you learn in class because what you learn in class you can apply a little bit but really you have to think outside the box when you’re down here.”

He says that the team is open to all students no matter what their major. The only requirement to join the team is that members must pay a $10 fee when they join.

Upperclassmen on the team have recruited new members a number of ways. Earlier this year they took their car to the amphitheater at MU’s Plaza 900 dining hall to show it off to freshman students. They have also run ads in MU’s student newspaper, The Maneater, to try and boost membership.

Blaquiere finds that being on the team is a rewarding experience for a number of reasons.

“I would say just the atmosphere of being on a team is enjoyable for me,” he said. “Everything that we do together as a team is really fun. Like when we sit around and joke when we’re taking a break from building the car, or just being down here, is very relaxing to me.”

He also thinks that the experience he has gained from being on the team will eventually pay big dividends for him and other team members in the future.

“The goal is for you, while you’re in college, to get real engineering experience and really get the idea of being able to look at something and say that’s a bad engineering design because of this,” Blaquiere said. “And then when you get out of college, and you have this experience of being around stuff and looking at stuff, you have an advantage over other people who maybe didn’t see certain design flaws or see how design processes actually work like this.”

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