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Engineering Project Teams Exemplify Alumni Support

Monday, August 3, 2015

Engineering project teams exemplify alumni support

By Kate Klein

It smells like an auto repair shop in the lower floor of Upson Hall, a pungent combination of oil, gasoline, dust and cement. The Cornell Racing shop is empty of students for the summer, but it is evident that just a few months ago the two workstations -- one for the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) car and the other for the Baja car -- were alive with activity.

Professor Al George, longtime adviser to Cornell's Formula SAE team, points out a student welding job on the 2014-15 Baja car, back in its spot after placing first, second and fourth in three North American Baja SAE events.

"This is way better than it needs to be," he says of the perfect metal seams in the car's suspension. Attention to detail is a sign of good engineers; some day soon, if the students who welded this car follow in the footsteps of many a Baja team member, they might be supervising projects as engineers with Google, Cummins, SpaceX or Moog, which seek out Cornell project team graduates.

A quarter of all undergraduate engineering students participate on a growing number of project teams -- 23 in 2014-15. Project team alumni say the real-life design, teamwork and hands-on experience they gained is instrumental in their professional work. And current project team students, staff and faculty say alumni engagement -- from advice to a vibrant network to financial support -- is essential to successful teams.



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