Senior Year Adventures!

“There are no secrets to success: don’t waste time looking for them. Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for whom you work and persistence.” – Colin Powell

Through all my years of school, experiences, hardships, and opportunities, I have found that there is nothing more true than these words from Colin Powell. I have worked hard my entire life, keeping the main goal in focus, in order to one day reach my dream of becoming an engineer for a NASCAR team. And you know what? It has absolutely paid off!

This is what I love about Embry-Riddle.

Being involved at Embry-Riddle and being a part of the Mechanical Engineering department has given me more opportunities than I could ever imagine. Because of my successes at ERAU, I have recently taken on a position that I have dreamed of my entire life! I am happy to announce that I am now the Crew Chief for Elaine Larsen’s Miller Welding Jet Racing team for the 2015 season. I will be traveling with the team again for the 2015 IHRA Nitro Jam Racing Series and will be a part of the first all-female jet racing team! This position will be perfect for me as I look to improve upon my hands-on skills and continue to learn about the maintenance done on these jet dragsters. Check out the press release below:

 Larsen Motorsports Fiery Female Debut for 2015

Crew Chief Elaine and Paige

 

Besides taking on this new role, school has been extremely busy for me, like always! I am working on my Senior Design Project for the Formula SAE team. In previous years, Embry-Riddle has participated in the Formula Hybrid competition, but this year, we have switched to the Formula SAE competition because it coincides more with our Mechanical Engineering curriculum under the High Performance Vehicle track. I am currently on the Suspension team and the Vehicle Integration lead. My responsibilities include the design of the a-arms, tie rods and push rods, spindle, and upright, as well as ensuring that each subsystem in the vehicle works well in the overall design. Not only do we get to design the entire vehicle as a team, but we get to build and test it next semester in order to prepare for competition in May.

Formula Hybrid Vehicle

Formula Hybrid Vehicle at competition last year


Along with Senior Design, I have been learning Computational Fluid Dynamics in my Vehicle Aero class. This is an extremely tedious class, but I have been learning industry software in order to analyze the aerodynamics on a vehicle. This has by far been my busiest semester because of all of the long projects I’ve had to complete, but I have learned so much this semester with all of the engineering software I am learning and design work that I have done.

trex 3D grid shot

Screenshot of the grid used to analyze the aerodynamics of a vehicle

This semester hasn’t been all work. I’ve remained actively involved in my organizations, including Orientation Team and Sigma Sigma Sigma. I helped organize a philanthropy night at a Women’s Volleyball game called the “Volley Against Domestic Violence” in order to raise awareness for Tri Sigma’s local philanthropy, the Domestic Abuse Council. We sold t-shirts for the event, held a food drive, and raised almost $900 to donate to the DAC.

Tri Sigma at the Volley Against Domestic Violence

Tri Sigma at the Volley Against Domestic Violence

I participated in my last Orientation as an O-team ambassador and it was such a blast. O-team has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college careers and I will definitely miss it. I am proud to represent the university and am proud that I am able to have such a huge impact on the new students and families. O-team has been a second family for me and has been such an amazing support system throughout my time here at ERAU.

Fall 2014 Orientation!

Fall 2014 Orientation!

My O-family!

Well, I will leave you with a couple pictures of my adventures this semester! Next weekend I have my first jet dragster race as a crew chief in training! (: I’ll keep you posted!

Tri Sigma Hippie Themed Recruitment Week!

Tri Sigma Hippie Themed Recruitment Week!

Welcomed 9 amazing women to our sorority!

Welcomed 9 amazing women to our sorority!

Participated in the Domestic Abuse Council's Purple Parade

Participated in the Domestic Abuse Council’s Purple Parade

Hanging out with the Deans!

Hanging out with the Deans!

Hanging out down Beale Street for the IHRA Nitro Jam World Finals in Memphis!

Hanging out down Beale Street for the IHRA Nitro Jam World Finals in Memphis!

Elaine Larsen lighting up the skies at the IHRA Nitro Jam World FInals

Elaine Larsen lighting up the skies at the IHRA Nitro Jam World FInals

 

 

 

Road trip, Racing, and Rubbernecking

Road trip funTraveling with a race team across the country is nothing short of exciting, exhausting, and eye-opening all at the same time. The summer has been an adventure for me as I’ve been road trippin’ with the Larsen Motorsports teams in the U.S. and Canada. Right now we are on day three of our 1900 mile journey from Michigan to Edmonton, Alberta as we are getting ready to race at the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals. This is going to be our biggest race of the year so we are expecting an action packed weekend!

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

 

The last update I gave you was from Rockingham, North Carolina. I had an incredible 21st birthday at the racetrack and was lucky enough to be selected as an honorary crew member for the winning and record setting Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny car. Getting experience at the track, learning about the cars, and being a part of the setup/road crew has given me a whole new perspective on racing. I have learned that the attention to detail of the setup crew is what sets the stage for the entire weekend. We put in some long hours and hard work to ensure that everything is smooth sailing for the race and for the team.

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Marisha Falk, in the Embry-Riddle jet dragster, also took her second win of the season and tied Elaine Larsen for the points lead in North Carolina. It still amazes me how I am living the dream as a college student at Embry-Riddle, as I am a part of a winning, professional race team at Larsen Motorsports. It sure does feel good to see that ERAU jet dragster in the Winner’s Circle. As Chris Larsen says, “not too bad for a couple rednecks and a bunch of college kids.”  Check out the video below that I made highlighting the ERAU jet dragster win!

Embry-Riddle’s Jet Dragster Road to Victory!
http://vimeo.com/96703597
Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

Next stop – Budds Creek, Maryland.  After returning to Daytona for a few weeks, we began our month long roadtrip with our first stop being in Maryland. The plan for the month was to race in Maryland, drive to Grand Bend, Ontario for the IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals, stay in Michigan for the week in between our races, and make the trek to Edmonton, Alberta for the last race in Canada. As a Texas girl, I’ve never had the opportunity to explore anywhere in the north, so this trip would give me the opportunity to see the country.

The first night of racing in Maryland was rained out so the team was energized and ready to go for a great night of racing on Saturday. Elaine Larsen took the win in her Miller Welding jet dragster by 0.06 seconds against Dawn Perdue. Let me tell you, these ladies are about as competitive as you can get and battle to the very end week-in and week-out. That’s some good racing right there!

Celebrating Elaine's win in the Winner's Circle!

Celebrating Elaine’s win in the Winner’s Circle!

A Look In the Jet Technology Center Presented by ERAU
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=323680954451978&set=vb.145881218898620&type=2&theater

A look in the JTC

Sightseeing and enjoying the road trip has been some of the best times of my life! We’ve come away from this trip with a few good stories, to say the least. Not to mention Elaine driving seven miles through a construction zone with her rear trailer door open and dragging on the ground…Anyways, here are a few of the highlights from being on the road so far.

Visiting the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Air and Space museum in Virginia. I also like to call it airplane heaven.

Air and Space Museum

Team at the museum

Sightseeing in D.C. and checking out all of the National Monuments. It was quite an adventure driving all four trucks and trailers through the narrow D.C. streets…

National Mall

Going to Akron, Ohio – the birthplace of jet racing. This is where the shop of Art Arfons is located, also known as the Home of the Green Monster. Tim Arfons, Art’s son, gave us a tour of his shop and showed us the office that Art Arfons used to use. Traveling with the team has allowed me the chance to learn about the history of jet racing and drag racing in general. I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for drag racing after learning about its grassroots and about the pioneers in the sport.

Home of the Green Monster

 

IMG_2470 (2)

Next week I’ll update you on our Canadian adventures and the rest of our road trip fun! I sure do have some good stories to tell. :)

 

Hello Summertime!

It’s official you guys. Summer is here!! I am extremely happy with how the semester ended and am grateful that I pulled off all A’s! Woohoo! Now it’s full time at the jet shop for this girl. This is my first day off since summer started and it feels good to recuperate a little because we’ve definitely been working hard! As I mentioned before, my new position at Larsen Motorsports is the co-host of the Jet Technology Center presented by Embry-Riddle.

Summertime

Blogging by the pool

The 2014 race season actually started back in March, where we attended our first IHRA Nitro Jam in Tucson, Arizona. This would be the first race debuting the Fastest Girls in Town! The fans are hyped, the team is ready to showcase their hard work, and everyone is ready for a great night of racing! Let’s just say that this race did not go our way. We did not have a spectacular start to the season that we had hoped for. Kat Moller, in her Matrix Systems jet dragster, scrubbed the wall during her first run down the quarter-mile, Elaine Larsen had a FOD (Foreign Object Debris) issue with her engine in her Miller Welding jet dragster, and Dawn Perdue’s Sport Aviation jet dragster had an electrical short causing it to shut off after the smoke and fire show. Man oh man could it get any worse?!

 

Jet car maintenance at the racetrack!

Jet car maintenance at the racetrack!

Chris Larsen, President of Larsen Motorsports

Chris Larsen, President of Larsen Motorsports

Despite all of the troubles that the Larsen Motorsports teams were faced with, I can definitely say that the LMS teams display the true meaning of teamwork. The team worked until five in the morning swapping an engine in Elaine’s car and still gave it their all at the racetrack the next day. Our morale and positive energy sure did take a hit that weekend, but do you want to know the secret to our success? How on earth could we possibly recover from such a stressful and heartbreaking weekend? Well, the key to our success is passion. Every member of the LMS team truly loves what they do and would sacrifice so much to make this team stronger. I love working with a team who are just as passionate as I am because it makes all the difference!

Packing parachutes

Our next races were in San Antonio, Texas in April,  and West Palm & Bradenton, Florida at the beginning of May. I know I can speak for all of us when I say that we had a whole new appreciation when things did go our way. These next few races were smooth sailing compared to the first race of the season. My family drove from Houston to come see us race for the first time in San Antonio and it was so exciting to have them finally experience their first LMS jet race!

My family at the racetrack

My family at the racetrack

My parents enjoying the race

My parents enjoying the race

My sister Savannah (left) and cousin Taylor (right)

My sister Savannah (left) and cousin Taylor (right)

This summer will go down as one of the best summers in my life! Traveling with the Larsen Motorsports team is going to be an incredible experience that not many people can say they’ve done. I am truly grateful that I get to represent Embry-Riddle during my travels and share with people all of the amazing projects that I work on as a Mechanical Engineering student. We will leave for Canada at the beginning of June for a month for our races up north. I will be sure to keep you updated on our adventure!

Prescott Jet Dragster Team joining us in Tucson, AZ

ERAU Prescott Jet Dragster Team joining us in Tucson, AZ

Team Whataburger run in Texas

Team Whataburger run in Texas

Touring the Simpson Factory in San Antonio

Touring the Simpson Factory in San Antonio

Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

I will also be posting jet dragster fast facts videos throughout the summer so you will have the opportunity to expand your jet dragster knowledge. Check out the first few below:

 Fast Facts – Chassis Fabrication
https://vimeo.com/93392661
Fast Facts - Chassis Fabrication

Jet Shop Update – Post Race Inspections
https://vimeo.com/95152906
Post-Race Inspections

Jet Shop Update – Repairing Turbine Nozzle
https://vimeo.com/95159751
Repairing Turbine Nozzle

Jet Shop Update – Removing Lower Turbine Case
https://vimeo.com/95161053

Removing Lower Turbine Case

I arrived in Rockingham, North Carolina this afternoon for our next IHRA Nitro Jam! I will be spending my 21st birthday at the racetrack doing what I love and I couldn’t be more excited! Lookout for some awesome jet racing pictures!

Life Update…Prepare Yourself!

I admit, it’s been way too long since I’ve last updated you guys! So prepare yourself, because not even I expected this much to happen to me since August. Let’s just say that I have been extremely blessed. I am so grateful for all of the amazing opportunities that I have been given. It’s such a great feeling to reflect on all of the goals that I have set for myself since the start of my college career and to see them come to life. Don’t get me wrong, my junior year of college has also been the toughest for me. I’ve definitely had my fair share of struggles, but have managed to get through them shiny side up with the support of my family, hard work, and my strong faith in God.

Sigma Sigma SigmaSo here is a quick summary of everything that you’ve missed. Last semester I unexpectedly took on the role of president of my sorority in order to fill the position of a sister who took an internship. It also happened to be the same semester that I was taking my toughest classes. I somehow managed to pull through while still maintaining a 3.9 GPA. It was a very stressful time, but I learned so much being the leader of my sorority and wouldn’t change it for anything. My best advice to get through times like these: don’t be afraid to take on a challenge, even if it looks impossible. During times like these, you will surprise yourself at your potential and what you are really capable of accomplishing. I know that this was the case for me. I really learned the meaning of being a leader and also learned how important it is to push aside any prideful thoughts and ask for help when I really needed it.

DISSpeedweeks in February was definitely one of the highlights this year. Because I interned with NASCAR last summer, the department I worked with was awesome enough to get me passes to every race. I made it to as many races as I could, despite all of the assignments and tests that were thrown on me. I went to the Sprint Unlimited and NASCAR Home Tracks promoters hospitality event, the Camping World Truck Series race, Nationwide race, Daytona 500, Battle at the Beach, and saw the K&N East Series race at New Smyrna Speedway. You could say I was in heaven.

NASCAR Fans Pit Road

Boeing Scholarship Recipients

At the end of February, I got to take the trip of a lifetime!! This year I was selected as one of the Boeing scholarship recipients. Boeing invited all of the scholarship recipients from the Prescott and Daytona campuses to come tour the Boeing factory in Seattle, all expenses paid for. This was the first time that Boeing has ever done anything like this, so it was truly and honor to be selected to go on this trip. It was absolutely incredible walking through the factory where Boeing manufactures all of their planes, and then to walk on the flightline where these planes are delivered to the customers. We also were able to walk through a brand new 787 and 777! Can it get any better than that??

One of my goals for this year was to get involved in more engineering projects and focus more on my academic involvement because I already have a lot of experience with the social organizations I am involved in. I am proud to say that I have been initiated into Tau Beta Pi (an engineering honor society), Order of Omega (an honor society for Greek organizations), and I am currently working on a project that involves the design of a jet engine test cell.  Last semester I was involved in Formula SAE as a Special Topics credit. Special Topics is such a great way to get hands-on project experience while also receiving credit hours towards your degree program. I was a part of the engine team and assisted in the selection of new engine and the preliminary design report.

Space Needle

Elaine and I I’m happy to say that I have continued my work at Larsen Motorsports and am officially traveling to every IHRA Nitro Jam race with the team for the 2014 season! How lucky can a girl get?! I have taken on a marketing position with Embry-Riddle in order to market the university in conjunction with Larsen Motorsports. As a result, I get to work every event with the team in the all new Jet Technology Center presented by Embry-Riddle. This is an interactive fan experience at the race track that will take fans through the engineering, human factors, fabrication, and art work behind every jet dragster. Fans will have the opportunity to see future Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters built in front of their own eyes.

Houston RodeoOver Spring Break I went home to Houston for part of the week to catch up with the family. It was definitely a much needed trip and nothing ever beats going back to Texas. Some of the highlights included Whataburger (of course), Houston Rodeo (always a tradition), amazing Mexican food, family time, a new cowboy hat, and home-cooked meals!

 

 

Rodeo with family

Selfie with Roxy Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ERAU Jet DragsterAt the end of the week, I traveled to Tucson, Arizona for the first race of season with the Larsen Motorsports (LMS) teams! This year the LMS teams doubled in size. The team consists of 4 female jet dragster drivers who come from a variety of backgrounds but all have a passion for racing. Elaine Larsen, co-owner of Larsen Motorsports drivers the Miller Welding jet dragster. Marisha Falk, a double Embry-Riddle alumnae, drives the Embry-Riddle jet dragster. Kat Moller, one of the newest LMS drivers, drives the Matrix Systems jet dragster. And lastly, Dawn Perdue, the 2nd newest driver, drives the Sport Aviation jet dragster. Last weekend I headed back to Texas for the second race of the season in San Antonio! I’ll update you guys later about life on the road with the Larsen Motorsports teams. I have so much to tell you about our first two races and I’ll even include my race recaps.

At the trackLastly, I am excited to announce the launching of my new website!! It was designed by Star Computer Services, a business that my parents own. I guess having your mom design websites for a living has its perks. (: Check it out! I would love your support! www.paigesanchez.com

Be on the lookout for race updates next week!

Night of Fire

Racing, racing, and more racing! These last few weeks I’ve been so caught up in the motorsports scene and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The weekend following my trip to Connecticut, I traveled with the Larsen Motorsports team to Georgia for the Night of Fire at Atlanta Dragway. Even though I haven’t been to a whole lot of races with the team, considering I started interning there in January, I’m still going to say that this race was my favorite! After arriving Friday afternoon and setting up, we enjoyed the night with some teambuilding. We ate delicious BBQ, had a blast at Funopolis with go-karts, bumper boats, laser tag, and arcade games, and ended the night with the pool and hot tub.

Setting up at Atlanta Dragway with the jet shop greaser girls.

After a fun night of play, the next day at the track was all work. However, being a part of the team never seems like work to me. I always enjoy being at the track, learning something new, and interacting with the fans.  Because of my internship with NASCAR this summer, I have noticed I am paying even more attention to detail. Now that I have a better understanding of the business side of the motorsports industry, I believe that this has allowed me to understand the technical side a little better, oddly enough. I now have a well-rounded perspective of racing, which will enable me to become a better engineer. I have a greater sense of urgency to learn – and not only learn what, but how and why, as well. I am making every single moment a learning opportunity, even when we are just talking with fans or during some down time.

Theresa Brown, right, and I crewing for Elaine’s Miller team.

Theresa Brown and I crewed Elaine Larsen’s Decade of Thrills jet dragster with crew chief Brian Tocci. Before each pass, we must run through a checklist in order to prep the car and ensure its safety before every run. This includes packing parachutes, filling tires, inspecting all components of the car, and ensuring all materials needed at the starting line are in the truck. When it’s finally our time to race, we push the car out on the starting line, where Theresa cleans the tires with Brake Cleaner and I ensure that all tires have VHT, a liquid epoxy resin applied to the tires before each run to help the car stick to the track.

Brian starts the dragster and takes off in the truck down the drag strip. Theresa then puts Elaine on the starting line while I get some good footage of the action.

Standing in between two, 5000 horsepower jet dragsters is a feeling that I can’t even describe. Watching these dragsters take off up close, and race down the track successfully, brings a feeling of accomplishment and makes every minute worked at the shop completely worth it. Now we get to do it all over again and prep for the second run! Unfortunately, the second pass turned into a smoke and fire show because dew had settled on the drag strip, but it was still just as incredible. And to top it off, the whole team sat along the wall down the track and watched some amazing fireworks!

Theresa, Elaine, and I on the back of a humvee!

The best part of being on the Larsen Motorsports team is that the Larsens truly make us feel like we each have an important role on the team. They appreciate all of us and realize our potential. After the first pass at Atlanta Dragway, the team got to ride in the back of a couple humvees down the drag strip. The crowd was cheering us on as we rode by waving at them, and the recognition we all received felt so incredible.

 

This was definitely one of the best weekends of my summer and it’s all thanks to Chris and Elaine Larsen. I am proud to say that I am one of their interns and always look forward to the opportunities that I have at the jet shop. Keep reading the blog because I still have so much to tell you about race weekend here in Daytona!

For now, here’s a few more photos from the weekend!

 

 

The pit area

Embry-Riddle jet dragster

Miller Decade of Thrills jet dragster

Atlanta Dragway