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Photo Credit: Katie Hardy for TRW

UMBC Racing balloons in size and drives on

As many student organizations were working to recruit new members and spread awareness at the fall Involvement Fest, UMBC Racing once again proudly displayed their student-made vehicle on the grass of the Quad. Each year, they put their new and improved vehicle to the test in a Baja Society of Automotive Engineers competition.

It takes about eight months for them to build and test these sturdy one-seaters. “We try to get everything done by winter break,” said Daniel Mattes, a senior mechanical engineering major. Since joining the team in 2012 as a freshman, Mattes has worked on chassis redesign, suspension and drive-train development. He is now the lead welder on the team.

Mattes’ teammate Josh Taggart, a junior mechanical engineering major, is listed as the Vice President of UMBC Racing in official SGA records. “We don’t really have a strict policy on group hierarchy, but the SGA requires groups to list certain personnel.” He’s now primarily responsible for the brake system design and maintaining a close relationship with their sponsor, the United States Army Research Laboratory.

“Many of our experienced members graduated in 2013, so the experience level dropped from about three to four years to 1.25,” said Taggart. Luckily, the number of active members has grown significantly in the past few years. Towards the end of Involvement Fest, UMBC Racing had three full pages of students signed up to receive more information.

“We’re looking for more people from majors other than just mechanical engineering, like computer science, business, graphic design and marketing,” said Mattes. A psychology major came on board last year and is now leading their business presentation, which is a crucial part of every race and is included in their final score for each competition.

Adding to Taggart, Mattes said, “We are always looking for new members to come and take part. We have taken 10-15 members to each race, which always includes a mix of new members and senior members.”

They’ve quickly discovered that the best way to ensure that their new members stay committed to the team is by bringing them to at least one race during their first year. “Once they get a taste of the action, they’re hooked.”

According to Taggart, travel expenses, including hotels and transportation to the races, take up approximately 30 percent of their total budget. Since the Baja SAE competition is made up of three races in three separate locations, the team is preparing to race in Tennessee, California and New York next semester. It’s clear they’re committed to bring home a victory this time around.

Until then, the UMBC Racing team is hoping to get the word out and see more people attend their Wednesday meetings during free hour in ITE 233. Come and take a lap!