The wealth of auto racing knowledge in the Charlotte region is a valuable asset to the Lee College of Engineering’s Motorsports Engineering program, providing students with the opportunity to learn from top industry experts. One such expert is Dr. Charles Jenckes, who has been an adjunct professor at UNC Charlotte since 2014, and is teaching a unique high-performance racing engines program this summer.
During the day, Dr. Jenckes leads the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) department for the Haas F1 Team. During the evening for both 2019 summer terms, he is teaching Motorsports Engine Development, a course focused specifically on the development of high-performance racing engines. The class has attracted juniors, seniors and even three post-baccalaureate students willing to give up their summer evenings for the opportunity to study with Dr. Jenckes.
Dr. Jenckes has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State. During his career, he has worked for race teams throughout the United State and Europe. He has been with Haas since 2014.
“I’ve been involved in racing all my life,” Dr. Jenckes said. “I was member of a road racing championship team when I was 16. I’m also a big supporter of the state university system in North Carolina. It’s one of the best educational values around and all of the institution are of very high quality. People come from all over the world to get their educations here, especially in engineering.”
Dr. Jenckes has taught a number of courses at UNC Charlotte in the past five years, including thermo-fluid design and multiple engine courses.
“I like teaching, because I like working with the next generation of engineers,” he said. “I feel like part of my job in life is to give back to society, and I feel I can do that by working with the next generation of engineers.”
For the summer 2019 Motorsports Engine Development course, Dr. Jenckes is teaching students how to enhance an existing engine system for top performance. This includes understanding the engineering aspects of what increases performance, and then optimizing engines within a budget for performance and reliability. Each student designs an engine-development plan for a specific engine, and then presents the plan and all of the engineering details behind it in a paper and class report.
“I give all of my courses industry relevance, so they will lead to students getting jobs,” Jenckes said. “To be an effective engineer, you have to be able to communicate your ideas. So I require oral presentations and reports in all my classes.”
Even though he has already graduated with his Mechanical Engineering degree, Chase Wrenn came back to UNC Charlotte to take the summer high-performance engine class. “It’s a topic I find really interesting,” he said. “Dr. Jenckes is excellent at taking all sorts of general engineering theories and topics and making them relevant specifically to motorsports. He also has great real-world stories and experiences that make what he is teaching interesting and applicable.”
Student Tyler Cook is taking his second class with Dr. Jenckes. “The interaction with him in the classroom is great,” Cook said. “He always has answers to our questions. And he always has insights into how to fix an engineering problem.”
In addition to the classroom, student Victor Marshall also interacts with Dr. Jenckes on the UNC Charlotte Formula SAE team. “Dr. Jenckes is the advisor for our FSAE team,” Marshall said. “One of the coolest things about having him as our advisor is he brings so much experience. It’s great getting to learn from him in both the classroom and in the motorsports lab working on our race car.”