By: Brandon Pytel
Date: June 4, 2018
UC Mechanical Engineering Professor Awarded Formula SAE Mentor's Cup
By: Brandon Pytel
UC mechanical engineering professor Randall Allemang receives the Formula SAE Carroll Smith Mentor’s Cup for his outstanding mentorship as Bearcat Motorsports adviser.
Bearcat Motorsports, University of Cincinnati’s (UC) Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) team, once again had a strong finish at this year’s East competition held at Michigan International Speedway. The UC team placed 40th out of 114 teams. This finish is the result of countless hours of time and commitment, but it’s also the result of outstanding mentorship.
At the 2018 Formula SAE Award’s Ceremony, Bearcat Motorsports faculty adviser, Randall Allemang, PhD, received the Carroll Smith Mentor’s Cup. The Mentor’s Cup is the highest award a faculty adviser can receive from across the three different Formula competitions (Formula SAE, Formula Hybrid and Formula SAE Electric), recognizing “extraordinary levels of personal time and expertise given to engineering education and the ability to serve as an exceptional role model for students.”
Said team leader Jacob Frisco and graduate student Brian Steinbrunner in their nomination letter, Allemang “has shaped young engineers with practical, effective and personal mentorship. His mentorship allows students to develop their engineering, interpersonal and management skills in a way that is not possible during regular coursework.”
Allemang has served as Bearcat Motorsports adviser for the last 16 years, teaching the class that mechanical engineering students can take as part of the senior design sequence in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS).
“Many senior design projects are simply paper design,” said Allemang. “This project offers students the opportunity to be part of many factors of an engineering project like building and testing.”
Allemang sees his job as adviser to educate the team, providing them direction but also giving them the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes. He enjoys the diverse combination of students a class like this brings together.
“It’s a really interesting mix of people that sometimes works well and sometimes not so well. You never know what to expect,” said Allemang. “My job is to manage this whole process, while verbalizing the limits the students are under, so the team doesn’t try to do too many things in a one-year cycle.”
Given the Formula competition requirements, the team must create a new vehicle frame each year, so, though most teams tweak designs from previous years, students still construct a completely new car. This can seem daunting to a faculty adviser, explained Allemang.
“The difficulty with advising a project like this is you have to know many things,” he said. “You have to know engines, structure, fluid flow and thermodynamics. Early on, you learn alongside students in all of these areas.”
The Carroll Smith Mentor’s Cup means a lot to Allemang, not only because of the recognition by his peers but also because he had the chance to meet Carroll Smith years ago, as Smith’s involvement was winding down and Allemang’s was just starting up. Smith also felt strongly about the educational aspects of the competition.
“It’s meaningful to win an award that is named after somebody I’ve met and whose view of things I appreciate,” said Allemang.
Later this month, Allemang and the Bearcat Motorsports team heads to Lincoln, Nebraska, for the Formula SAE West competition. Allemang will continue to guide these students this summer and into his 17th year as an adviser and instructor for the team.
To Frisco and Steinbrenner, this dedication sticks with students even after their time at UC: “Countless alumni can trace their career path and professional success to the skills and experiences gained through a program championed by Allemang.”