Tomorrow’s Aerospace Engineers Go From Race Cars To Rockets

Engineering students from 100 universities are coming together to compete in the Formula SAE (Society of Automative Engineers). Held in Lincoln, Nebraska, the competition isn’t focused on speed alone, but the design, development, endurance, and presentation of small Formula-style race cars. The event is more than just a way for promising engineering students to show off their skills; it has become a talent pool for major aerospace and tech companies seeking new hires and interns.

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A Combination Of Passion Drive And Talent

SpaceX, the Hawthorne, CA based space exploration giant and aerospace manufacturer has used the Formula SAE as a regular recruiting opportunity. The company takes on 700 student interns each year, with anywhere between 50 and 60 of those students coming from Formula SAE. “For any candidate, the ones that are most successful at SpaceX have a combination of passion, drive and talent. And to me, (Formula SAE) plays into the passion piece,” said Brian Bjelde, SpaceX’s vice president of human resources.

Producing Under Pressure

Former head of SpaceX’s talent acquisition, Dolly Signh has pointed out how the process of designing, developing and putting Formula race cars to the test is reflective of the demanding production environment in aerospace engineering and manufacturing. “The great thing about (Formula SAE) is it’s a full production cycle. These kids build the car from scratch. They have to test in a high pressure situation and see how it performs.”

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Seeking An Eye For Design And Analysis

Scaled Composites, and aerospace company that’s now part of Northrop Gruman Corp., has also used the Formula SAE competition as a recruiting and mentoring opportunity. The company has shown special interest in recruiting students that are focused on the design and analysis of the cars. Executive assistant to Scaled Composites’ VP of engineering, Kelsey Gould has said, “We do look for engineers that are hands-on. They’re really committed to figuring things out on their own.”

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Camryn Shea
 

Is a longtime business consultant and a writer who loves to read about the Maker Movement that’s been made possible through technology. In her free time, she enjoys antiquing and touring vineyards.

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