Engineering Student Leadership Development
Leadership development often happens outside of the classroom. Removing the financial barriers will allow for more students to experience growth through competition team travel and attendance at national conferences. AIAA, Eco Car, Alabama Human Powered Vehicle Team and Formula SAE have outlined their financial need to allow their organizations to participate in such experiences without the burden of cost.
The student branch of American Institute of Aeronautics (AIAA) participates in their annual regional conferences. The goal of AIAA is to provide resources and experiences to assist members in personal and professional development, connect a network of global members, and shape the future of the aerospace industry. Students who are enrolled in senior design or are involved in research or student design teams on campus are often highly encouraged or required to attend one of these conferences and present their projects. In the past, the UA student branch of AIAA has aimed to subsidize expenses for their members, but have often struggled to raise the funds to support all that wish to participate. For the 2020-2021 academic year, AIAA would like to offset the cost of registration and travel for 75 of their students to be able to attend the regional conference.
The UA Eco Car team will travel to Yuma and Phoenix, Arizona on May 10, 2020 to compete in the Year 2 competition with its re-engineered 2019 Chevrolet Blazer, competing against other teams to demonstrate the best fuel economy, drivability, and autonomous capabilities. The team will also present its designs and decisions in front of engineers and managers from industry-leading automotive companies. In past competitions, twelve students and two faculty members have been able to attend. With Bama Blitz funding, the team hopes to increase its participation by two members to further the transfer of knowledge from year 2 to year 3 and to build a high-performing team.
Formula SAE aims to take twenty students, two faculty advisors, their race car and a mobile workshop to the 2021 competition in Los Angeles, CA where they will not only be able to compete, but gain exposure to top companies in the industry. This is a costly endeavor but one they see immense value in. The funds would be extremely beneficial to the personal and technical development of the Formula SAE team. Over the past few years, the team has significantly improved its performance from placing 98th out of 120 universities in 2013, to finishing 10th overall in 2019. The LA competition will set UA on a competitive stage against some of the US’s top universities. In the past, team members have been responsible for their own lodging during competition team travel.
The Alabama Human Powered Vehicle team, the student competition team for the Association of Mechanical Engineers, is working to develop a working knowledge of designing, constructing, presenting, and racing a completely human powered vehicle. The team will compose a professional and accurate design report made up of analysis, drawings, and descriptions of work completed through the annual competition. The competition provides real work training to gain hands-on experience and leadership development for members.
The College of Engineering believes that every interested student should have the opportunity to participate in a form of experiential learning. The impact of your contribution will make a difference in the lives of the students. The cost of travel is prohibitive or limiting to many organizations, including those mentioned here.
Through the 2020 Bama Blitz campaign, we aim to raise $15,000 to be able offset the financial requests of the four organizations mentioned above. The Capstone Engineering Society, the alumni association for the college of engineering has committed to matching the contributions one to one up to $15,000 with a total goal of providing $30,000 in support of student leadership development opportunities though competition team and conference travel, allowing their travel and registration fees to be fully funded. While each team and organization featured here is unique, the purpose is similar. Competition and conference travel allows engineering students the opportunity to grow individually, as an organization, and gain invaluable exposure to the industry.