Calder’s, Cars, & Challenges—UC FSAE Future Secured Through Endowment

By: Ashley Duvelius
Date: August 31, 2016

The establishment of the Joan and John Calder UC FSAE Vehicle Support Endowment Fund will provide a dependable source of funding for the UC Bearcat Motorsports Team year after year.

Members of the UC Bearcat Motorsports Team celebrate with Joan & John Calder, Dean Lim, & Professor Randy Allemang.

Members of the UC Bearcat Motorsports Team celebrate with Joan & John Calder, Dean Lim, & Professor Randy Allemang.


“I will build a car for the great multitude,” Henry T. Ford said of his revolutionary vehicle, the Ford Model T.

Cars have certainly come a long way since the 1908 Ford creation and the Formula One (F1) race car is modern driving performance at its finest. With the ability to go from 0 to 100 mph and back to 0 in less than five seconds, the F1 is truly a great engineering feat.  And every year, thousands of undergraduate and graduate engineering students compete around the world in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) Competition to build such an elite vehicle.

Challenged to budget, design, build, test and race a formula-style race car, FSAE is the largest international student engineering design competition and for 36 years and counting it has been pitting the brightest students against each other. The student led competition tests the hands-on engineering savvy of more than 400 teams as it combines R&D, design, manufacturing, and testing with real world management experience.

But building a race car from scratch ain’t cheap and University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science (UC CEAS) students put thousands of hours and dollars into the car each year. The annual costs for the UC FSAE team (known as Bearcat Motorsports) amount to $75,000 and therefore, substantial endowment is needed to provide the team with a steady stream of income for the annual competition—a whopping $1,875,000 to be exact.

 And that’s where John and Joan Calder take the wheel. Wholly impressed by the ingenuity and practicality of the Bearcat Motorsports team, John knew he was onto something of value to support.

The UC FSAE Team at the 2016 Formula SAE East Competition, held at the Michigan International Speedway.

The UC FSAE Team at the 2016 Formula SAE East Competition, held at the Michigan International Speedway.

“It is my deep belief that practical, hands-on engineering has much more value than theoretical engineering. And that is why we’re proud to support CEAS as they provide an unparalleled experiential engineering education—the Bearcat Motorsports Team is a prime example of such applicable engineering that is truly useful out in the industry…and out in the world, for that matter,” says John, former owner of Dorsey-Alexander, Inc., a Manufacturer’s Agent for motion control, sensing and machine guarding safety products.

After discussions with Bearcat Motorsports, CEAS and UC Foundation staff, John and his wife, Joan, finalized their decision to support. John elaborates, “We need to support universities that provide this kind of advantageous education with more private funding since they aren’t receiving it from the state anymore.”

John and Joan established the Joan and John Calder UC FSAE Vehicle Support Endowment Fund with a $100K pledge commitment. The fund will be used to provide flexible and dependable funding for the UC FSAE Bearcat Motorsports Team to: purchase equipment, materials and/or parts needed for the vehicle; to send team members to the FSAE competitions; and to support research and development projects that allow UC FSAE to evolve as technology advances.

The gift also has a challenge component built in: Joan and John will assist UC in raising an additional $100K on top of their gift and will then provide an additional $25K to top it all off! A challenge gift seeks to define the future and motivates others to join the donor in extending the impact of their mutual gift. The perpetuity of this gift is greatly significant to the Calder’s and they feel that this is merely the humble beginning of an even brighter future for the Bearcat Motorsports Team, which is already ranked in the FSAE Top 15 internationally.

Joan describes, “We hope to accomplish three goals with this gift: 1) to see an increase in the corpus to cover at least 30% of the team’s expenses for travel, fees, etc.; 2) to encourage and acknowledge that soft gifts are just as important for these efforts such as support from local machine shops and manufacturers to build components for the students’ car; and 3) to enrich the Bearcat Motorsports platform and build up their national and international reputation as the best team.

We want the world to know what great faculty and students we have at the University of Cincinnati.”

The Mr. & Mrs. Behind the Wheel of the Challenge

Left to right: Dean Lim, Joan Calder & John Calder.

Left to right: Dean Lim, Joan Calder & John Calder.

John F. Calder earned a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1967 at Michigan Technological University and went on to earn an MS degree from Michigan Tech in Business Administration in 1976. After graduating from Michigan Tech he started his career as a Design Engineer with Digital Integrated Circuit Systems in 1967.

John has always been very active with his alma mater, Michigan Tech. He is the recent recipient of the MTU Board of Trustees Silver Medal Award in recognition of his personal and professional achievements. In 2009, he received the Michigan Tech Outstanding Service Award for his significant contributions to the success of the alumni association and the university.

John currently serves on the UC CEAS Dean’s Advisory Council and is a member of the   Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering External Advisory Board. He has served as the Vice Chair of the Michigan Tech Fund Board of Directors. John recently set up a scholarship which supports under privileged students from the Upper Peninsula and Minnesota to attend MTU. John and Joan have also established the ME-EM Calder Systems and Controls Laboratory.

John is active with the Boy Scouts as a Citizenship merit badge counselor and advisor. In the past he was a Webelo’s leader, Cub Master, and Committee Chair of both the local Pack and Troop. He is an avid hunter and gardener, and enjoys fishing. John and Joan have two children and live in Cincinnati, OH.

Please consider joining John and Joan as stakeholders in the UC FSAE Bearcat Motorsports team with your gift in support of the challenge through this secure on-line giving site.

Your support will ensure the sustainability and preservation of the Bearcat Motorsports Program at the University of Cincinnati and benefit students participating in the program well into the future.  On behalf of the University of Cincinnati, please accept our profound gratitude for your support.

For more information on making a contribution supporting the challenge, please contact or call 513-556-6270.