When one thinks of motorsports careers, most of the attention is on the driver. Start in karts, then Spec Miata, move up to MX-5 Cup, and so on. But what about those seeking careers on the technical side? For decades, that path has often meant Formula SAE or SAE Baja, and being recruited to a car company. But as with racing, there is no single path.
This past year, a team of engineering students from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts plotted their own path. One that combined the spirit and heritage of their school with that of Mazda Motorsports. The team from Smith College, 72 miles from Lime Rock, built a Miata to compete in the Grassroots Motorsports $2017 Challenge. They finished seventh overall, from 40 entries. They were second among the colleges, second among rookie teams and the highest place Mazda. They earned the respect of the competitors and judges.
A little background on Smith College, as they have a rather new engineering program. Founded in 1871, Smith College opened in 1875 with 14 students. Today, Smith is among the largest women’s colleges in the United States, with students from 48 states and 68 countries. In 2004, Smith College made history when 19 women graduated as part of the first class of engineers ever from an all-women’s ABET-accredited engineering program.