Serving the Charlotte region’s strong motorsports industry and the overall U.S. automotive industry, the Lee College of Engineering’s Motorsports program and its allied NC Motorsports Research Center (NCMARC) continued educating engineers at all levels and conducting valuable research.
Undergraduate enrollment in the Motorsports Concentration grew 150 percent in the past five years, going from 77 in 2012 to 170 in 2016. Enrollment in every motorsports elective class now exceeds capacity, and new faculty were hired including people in the new role of assistant teaching professors. With the improving U.S. economy, a number of graduates are finding jobs in the automotive industry with original equipment manufacturers and suppliers.
Interest in motorsports-related graduate programs grew significantly, driven by demands from the automotive industry for advanced skills. Graduate program enrollment was up 100 percent in the past five years and is still increasing. There are now more than 30 masters and Ph.D. students in Mechanical Engineering focusing their research in motorsports-related areas. Thesis projects cover a wide range of automotive topics such as vehicle systems, aerothermal management, crash worthiness and safety.
NCMARC research projects underway and completed in the past year include those funded by the Office of Naval Research, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Michelin and EPRI.
To further its aerodynamics research program, NCMARC began building a 10-percent-scale wind tunnel. In the undergraduate Kulwicki Laboratory, new equipment added included a numerically controlled lathe and a high-speed-milling machine that will improve students’ hands-on learning experience.
Motorsport Engineering alumni continue to build successful racing careers, with a number working as team engineers throughout the racing community. Two graduates are now NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chiefs, Billy Scott for Danica Patrick’s team at Stewart-Haas Racing, and Matt McCall for Jamie McMurray’s team at Chip Ganassi Racing.