Pinnacle of auto engineering: Trine SAE students tour Andretti Autosport

April 06, 2023

Trine students and faculty toured Andretti Autosport on March 16: front, from left, Ellie Trine, Dominique Vidal; middle, Shelby Altman, Myles Taylor, Michael Worosz, Connor Betts; back, Gibson Raimer, Nathaniel Acres, Michael Ledyard and Joe Thompson.
INDIANAPOLIS — Trine University students looking toward careers in automotive engineering recently had the opportunity to learn from one of the biggest dynasties in racing.

Members of Trine’s student chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) toured Andretti Autosport on March 16.

Led by racing legend Michael Andretti, the Andretti Autosport team fields entries in IndyCar as well as several other series. Andretti Autosport boasts more than 230 race wins, including five at the Indianapolis 500, as well as multiple series championships.

The trip gave the students, all of whom share a passion for cars, the opportunity to see automotive engineering at its highest level.

“Getting to see the behind-the-scenes work of something that interests us all was important,” said SAE president Nathaniel Acres, a mechanical engineering major from Fishers, Indiana. “We want to be able to explore the racing world we are trying to get into, and hopefully establish future connections with teams to further our education.”

‘Insanely cool’

Acres arranged the trip after a family member who is a part owner of a company that manufactures parts for IndyCar teams put him in touch with Paul “Ziggy” Harcus, team manager at Andretti.

“From there, Ziggy was super awesome in helping us find the right time and date and gave us the full tour,” Acres said. 

The students were able to learn the history of Andretti Autosport and the company’s current projects. They learned about day-to-day operations and the different roles and jobs throughout the shop.

They also got an up-close look at the intricacies of race car and engine design and development, and were even able to watch the pit crew in action.

“Obviously seeing a bunch of race cars parked everywhere is insanely cool. But probably the coolest part was being able to watch the pit crew practice their whole routine for switching out the tires during a pit stop,” said Myles Taylor, a mechanical engineering major from Griffith, Indiana.

“My favorite part of the trip was being able to see some of the cars stripped down to get a peek at all the internals,” said Dominique Vidal, a mechanical engineering major from Cutler Bay, Florida.

Racing engines, up close

Michael Ledyard, a mechanical engineering major from Bryan, Ohio, said he has some experience building engines and cars. He went on the trip “to see how the professionals build cutting-edge cars to win races.”

He enjoyed seeing the engines, some of the most advanced in the world, up close.

“The biggest thing I learned from the trip was just how modular the cars are,” he said. “Each car has the ability to come apart in several pieces allowing the team to quickly replace parts and get the cars back on track.”

Connor Betts, a design engineering technology major from Milan, Ohio, said that seeing the engines was also a highlight of the trip for him.

“They are high-powered Honda engines that are unlike anything I have been able to get close to before,” he said.

Ellie Trine, a mechanical engineering major from Kokomo, Indiana, hopes to work as an engineer in the motorsports industry and was glad for the opportunity to see the shop.

“My favorite part of the trip was being able to see all the race cars that were being worked on and being able to watch live pit stop practice,” she said.

Acres thought the biggest takeaway for the Trine students was the focus and engineering that goes into each level of the car.

“We learned how tweaking one small aspect of the car or even the team's equipment can shave that half a second needed to win a race,” he said. “It also educated us in what real-world engineering is like, allowing us to notice some practices we can apply to our projects at Trine.”

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