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!

Only the Beginning

Last week was officially the last week of my internship. I can’t believe this incredible summer is already coming to an end. It seems like just yesterday I was on a plane to Charlotte heading to the All-Star race. But let me tell you, this summer will definitely go down as one of the most memorable, opportunistic, and eventful summers of my life. I’ve met so many people, had a blast with the interns here in Daytona, and have learned more about NASCAR than I thought was possible. I’m sure it will be difficult for me to go back to school after my amazing summer, but I’ve never been so focused, determined, and excited for what’s to come.

The July races at Daytona International Speedway were definitely one of the highlights this summer. I finally had the opportunity to attend a race as a professional and not as a fan, and that made all the difference for me. It’s my time to decide which side of the fence I will be on: am I destined as a fan in the grandstands, or do I really have what it takes to be in the garages with some of the best in the business. I took advantage of every minute I had at the track by walking through the garages and networking. Like I’ve said before, if there’s one thing you need to be good at in life, it should be networking.

I was curious to see how some of the engineers got their start and what advice they could give me. I am so very grateful that engineers from Stewart-Hass Racing took the time to talk to me, tell me about what they do, give me advice as I finish up my last two years in school, and even keep in contact with me. John Klausmeier, the Race Engineer for Danica Patrick’s crew, has been helping me build my résumé and make it motorsports engineering specific. I also got the chance to talk to Alan Gustafson, Jeff Gordon’s crew chief, who I also met at the All-Star race in Charlotte. Alan is someone who I’ve always looked up to as an engineering student working towards a career in NASCAR. He previously attended Embry-Riddle, which influenced my decision to attend ERAU.

Alba Colon, the program manager at GM, went out of her way to meet up with me for a few minutes. She is truly a pioneer for women in engineering in motorsports, and someone who will be a great mentor for me as I pursue my career. I even got the chance to give my business card to Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief. The advice and time that I received from these professionals in this sport was priceless and confirmed my aspirations to be in their shoes someday.

 

A few more highlights from race weekend included a pace car ride, victory lane with Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, check presentations, and enjoying the race with the interns.

Coke Zero 400 Victory Lane

The last few weeks of my 10-week internship went by the fastest. I was busy working on several projects up until the very last day! The most time consuming project that I was tasked with was the weekly track survey. During the month of July, it was my responsibility to call the 55 weekly promoters and conduct a survey, gaining valuable feedback about sponsorship programs, promoter events, and future business opportunities.  Although I spent most of my days on the phone, this project was the biggest learning experience for me. Not only was I able to learn about the program from my supervisors in the Weekly and Touring department, but from the promoters, who often shared many different views and perspectives.
 
Using the feedback from the promoters, I created a Survey Recap and presented it to my entire department. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so nervous in my life… In the end, my presentation went very well, and my department was impressed with all of the hard work I had put into the recap. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it felt to receive such high recognition from everyone in my department.
 

The interns with VP Marcus Jadotte

Just about every week, the NASCAR interns had the opportunity to connect with NASCAR executives at a Lunch & Learn. The executives would share with us their role in the company, their perspective as professionals in the sports industry, and ended the lunch with a Q&A session. A few of the featured executives included: NASCAR President Mike Helton, VP of Public Affairs and Multicultural Development Marcus Jadotte, VP of Strategic Development Eric Nyquist, VP of Human Resources Paula Miller, and Human Rights Activist Dr. Richard Lapchick.

The interns with Dr. Richard Lapchick

The NASCAR interns showed Daytona that they knew how to have a good time. We had an unforgettable summer together – whether it was going to the beach, movies, Daytona night life, line dancing, hibachi, New Smyrna Speedway, or a tour at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. There was never a dull moment with the interns. I can easily say that we will all be lifelong friends as we pursue our careers in the sports industry.

New Smyrna Speedway

Checking out weekly racing at New Smyrna Speedway

4th of July in Daytona

Touring ESPN Wide World of Sports

The interns with Pluto!

As I sadly watch this experience come to the end, I now know exactly what I need to do as I build my engineering experience. I plan on getting involved with local race teams or maybe even gaining experience at Spirit of Daytona. I’ve never wanted this more than I do now and I am going to do everything possible to ensure my career in motorsports is a success. My NASCAR internship may be over, but I can assure you that this is only the beginning.

 

Check out the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program Newsletters:

All-Star Weekend

Just when I think everything is going great, it gets even better! The opportunities seem never-ending and I have more blessings than I can count every single day. Attending All-Star Weekend in Charlotte this past weekend was one of them. This officially kicked of the start of my summer internship with NASCAR. As an intern, my orientation includes a mandatory, all expense paid trip to the All-Star Race weekend in North Carolina! (Tough life, right?) This experience gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the weekly operations that make each NASCAR race possible. I’m sure it’s obvious that it takes a lot of people to ensure a successful NASCAR weekend, but to actually speak with professionals who work in the sport has given me a completely different perspective. As if I didn’t love NASCAR enough already, I’ve definitely walked away from this experience with an even greater appreciation of this extraordinary sport. Now I’ve got to catch you up on this crazy weekend! Where to start…
 
The internship I have secured for the summer is through the NASCAR Diversity program. The purpose of the program is to create more diversity in the NASCAR industry and provide opportunities for minorities in the sport. All of the interns arrived in Charlotte on Thursday. Kristian, the Account Executive for Diversity Affairs in NASCAR, organized this trip for all of the interns. Thursday consisted of a social event where we could all meet each other and have some fun.
 
That evening, we headed to Downtown Charlotte for some bowling and pizza. Let me tell you, Charlotte is absolutely beautiful. I know it’s somewhere I want to live when I get older. It’s the perfect combination of city and country life. All of the interns in this program are pretty incredible, as well. They come from some amazing backgrounds and have already accomplished so much throughout their college careers. This orientation experience bonded us quickly and gave us an opportunity to learn from each other.

Walking through Downtown Charlotte

Intern outing at Strike-City Bowling

Friday was the first long and tiring day. Schedule for the day: breakfast, NASCAR R&D center, guest speakers, lunch, Revolution Racing tour, Roush Fenway Shop tour, dinner, guest speakers, driver intros, and the truck race. Whew! What didn’t we get to do?! A day full of NASCAR was the perfect way to spend my birthday. The NASCAR R&D center was unveiled in 2003; this center is used for safety initiatives, to enhance competition, and to perform weekly inspections. We were able to tour this facility and learn in detail about what takes place on a weekly basis.

NASCAR R&D Center

R&D 2

Throughout our orientation events, we had the opportunity to listen to several previous interns and professionals who work in the industry. They gave us valuable advice to help us make the most of our internship experience, as well as our future careers with NASCAR, or anywhere else for that matter. One piece of advice that I came away from this weekend: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Hard work will take you places, but the key to moving up in this industry is all about who you know. It’s really not a bad idea to network anywhere you go. Throughout this internship I will make an extra effort to work with other departments and become familiar with their operations and the people that make them up. Talking to professionals also gave me a glimpse of the inside operations that make the sport go. I never realized all of the positions and jobs involved in the sport; NASCAR truly does think of everything.

Next stop: Revolution Racing. Rev Racing manages NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. This is an outreach program looking to get minorities, including women, involved in racing. I love the efforts of the Drive for Diversity program because as a Hispanic female engineer, it would be great to see changes in the number of women and minorities involved in the sport.

The interns visiting Rev Racing

Before heading to the race track, we headed over to the Roush Fenway Shop for a tour. We were able to check out some of the cars that will be used at the Charlotte race this weekend, as well as where the cars are maintained.

Roush-Fenway Shop

All of the interns made my birthday extra special. It was my first birthday away from my family but it was definitely an unforgettable day. They all signed a cute Cinderella card for me and I even got a birthday sundae at dinner! Yum!

Such an incredible birthday

Now off to Charlotte Motor Speedway!

Livin’ it up at the racetrack!

As soon as we arrived at the race track, we were put right in the middle of the excitement. Crews were pushing their trucks on to pit road and camera men were running around trying to catch all of the action. At this moment, I stood in awe of what happening around me and did my best to soak in as much as I could. Here are a few pics of what I saw:

Truck Series Garage

Pit Road

Driver intros came next! We were directly in front of the stage on the race track. Pretty exciting stuff, I must say.

Driver Intros

Met driver Ty Dillon

The interns with Drive for Diversity driver, Darrell Wallace Jr.

And then the race started! We got to watch the race from pit road, where we were up close to the crews and watched them make all their pit stops. It’s one thing to watch it on TV, but to see it up close in person is a whole other experience in itself.

Just when you think it’s over, it’s not. It gets better. Next stop: VICTORY LANE! After the race, we were able to watch Kyle Busch climb out of his truck in victory lane. Couldn’t think of a better way to end the night.

Victory Lane

Can you believe that all of this happened in one day? I’ve seen a completely different side of NASCAR all within 24 hours. This experience was completely life changing and I’ve only shared with you up to Day 2. Stay tuned for the Day 3 – the All-Star Race update. I have seen so much more and can’t wait to share it with you so that you can get excited too! This could be you one day: maybe not working with NASCAR, but getting a taste of your dream. This is only the beginning of an amazing summer. I’m officially livin’ the dream.