ERAU Hosts Inaugural Florida SAE Section Meeting

BY: Clare Maloney

The Embry-Riddle EcoEagles were pleased to host the newest chapter of Formula SAE section arising in the nation’s “Sunshine State”, Florida during Daytona International Speedway’s Rolex 24. The section’s inaugural meeting was held on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s campus in their College of Business and included a guest speaker from the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). Embry-Riddle was chosen to host this event to encourage students to become involved with SAE programs and because of timeline of Rolex 24 events to follow the meeting. Among the attendees for the meeting were EcoCAR participants, new SAE section officers, SAE section Chairmen, and a retired GM technician. The EcoEagles’ last competition vehicle, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, was also in attendance, waiting patiently outside the building while the organizations discussed data acquisition in IMSA racing, safety technology inspections, and the racing class structure of IMSA events.

The International Motor Sports Association’s headquarters are located in Daytona Beach, Florida. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) shares their headquarters with the entity, along with the International Speedway Corporation (ISC). For these conglomerates, location is key. Daytona Beach is the home of numerous racing competitions within the community, including the Rolex 24, the Daytona 500, and Sprint Cup. Having this direct access to the competition motorsports community allows the companies to have direct access to the drivers, the sponsors, and the fans on an annual basis.

The Embry-Riddle EcoEagles are now entering the last stretch of their race for the first year of the EcoCAR 3 competition. By Embry-Riddle hosting this momentous meeting of the newest section, this raises awareness for not only the EcoEagles as a team, but also for the EcoCAR competition, as well. SAE International sent the Local Activities Specialist for Activities and Sections to this meeting, Allison Hosteleler, which gives the competition, the school, and the team attention that can reach international boundaries. The IMSA Technical Director, Scott Raymond, was in attendance to this meeting, representing the finest mechanical work that the industry has to offer.

The EcoEagles Engineering Manager, Tom Gorgia, was very pleased with the outcomes of this visit. When asked what his favorite part of the visit was, he said that the exposure that the team got to the real-world industry was “immeasurable” and that he looked forward to coordinating with the SAE section. It is important for students to have interaction with their respective industry in any degree. Students who have this exposure are statistically shown to be hired more often than students who do not have the same exposure. This meeting showed the team where they could potentially hold a career if they continue their hard work and dedication to the automotive industry.