Texas Tech University

Red Raider Racing Builds More Than Cars

March 8, 2024

Red Raider Racing Builds More Than Cars

The team is working hand in hand with Texas Tech University to craft coveted engineering professionals.

Tucked into the west corner of Mechanical Engineering North room 125 of Texas Tech University's campus is the home of Red Raider Racing and the Formula SAE team.

Room 125 is filled with materials used by members of the organization to build cars, tools and parts. The spacious lab room is equipped with computers, lockers and software for members to use.

Red Raider Racing provides experiential learning, helping members get real hands-on application in their respective career fields. It's also a cool hobby for those who want to practice mechanical engineering principles and have a need for speed. 

For any career path, gaining hands-on experience in college that has real-world application can be critical to success. This can help students figure out what they may or may not like about a particular career field or process. Red Raider Racing allows students to design, fabricate and market a quarter-scale formula car. For mechanical engineers learning how the “sausage is made” might be the most important piece of experience they need. 

“We offer manufacturing experience, you can get your hands on the mill lathe, CNC (computer numerical control) process and welding. We also have SOLIDWORKS (3D CAD design software) and free vouchers for certifications through that,” said Colton Sanford, president of Red Raider Racing.

Student using a soldering iron.
Fine tuning before the big race.

Red Raider Racing has started to gain traction with students as the organization recently saw a substantial member increase of about 70% this year, now standing 116 members strong. 

“I'm just carrying on the momentum from previous presidents and serving the organization the best I can,” said Sanford. “Hopefully, momentum keeps going. We put a lot of work in this year to make sure we had member retention; we had a lot of systems and processes to get people plugged in easily.” 

In his lone year as president, Sanford plans to sustain momentum for the next president in hopes that Red Raider Racing continues to hone the skills of future engineering professionals. This organization's reputation has had a substantial impact, especially among employers. Red Raider Racing boasts prestigious alumni at some of the top companies in the world like Peterbilt, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Tesla and Ferrari.

The goal is for members to become better engineers and build their network so they can be marketable to companies. The team comprises 14 officers and over 100 members who work diligently year-round designing, building and testing their Formula One-style race car. This is in preparation for their capstone experience at the Formula SAE International Competition in Brooklyn, Michigan, where they will compete against more than 100 teams from around the world. The event is at the end of the spring semester, May 8-11, when teams will battle with their own Formula One car built from the ground up, according to SAE regulations.  

“The biggest thing we offer is opportunity and then community. It's fulfilling to see freshmen and sophomores come in and learn about suspension, even if it's just manufacturing,” Sanford said. “For people that come in, it's the same benefits you're going to get, which is exposure and opportunity. That's what it boils down to.” 

“They treat underclassmen well, it's like having mentors help guide you through a process that would be hard to learn alone,” added Lucas White, a Red Raider Racing first-year student.

The benefits Red Raider Racing provides are numerous, from the events to the social aspects and network building. If you're studying engineering and want to gain experience that could benefit you in your future endeavors, Red Raider Racing is the place to be.

Red Raider Racing on the course in Arlington, Fall 2023
Red Raider Racing on the course in Arlington, Fall 2023

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