Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team Richard Petty Motorsports will partner with two U.S. Air Force Academy engineering students to conduct research and develop innovative new strategies during the summer competition season.
Cadet Karl Sapper, a Mechanical Engineering student, will focus on the structural elements of the No. 43 Ford. He will have the chance to apply some of the same innovative modeling and software used on Air Force aircraft to optimize the No. 43 Ford. Each week, he will analyze brake capabilities to provide strategy for tuning the brakes for driver and chassis needs. He will also assist with analyzing critical dampening, which will measure the reaction of the car with both spring and shock changes.
"I'm most excited to have the chance to meet and get to know members of the racing industry," said Cadet Sapper when asked what he was most looking forward to. "Additionally, I hope to learn more about how actual projects work, how to optimize their efficiency, and I want to broaden my depth of knowledge of materials engineering."
Cadet Alexander Hill brings both his Aeronautical Engineering and his own racing experience to the partnership. He's attended BMW's Performance Driving School, had the chance to race Mitsubishi and has entered the RMSolo Auto-cross league in Colorado. With his aeronautical background, aerodynamics will be a strong focus for him during the internship. He will help the team optimize its cars for the best aerodynamics, such as analyzing mechanical grip versus aero grip, and will bring a new, fresh approach into the group.
"I am positive working with the Richard Petty Motorsports team will prepare me to be a better student and teammate by developing my teamwork skills through working with other passionate car enthusiasts who possess a wide variety of skills. Furthermore, I am excited to put my engineering skills to the test in a real-world environment!" said Cadet Hill.
Both cadets will review the library of simulation outputs the team has on file and see where efficiencies can be made better with those simulation results. They will also attend the team's daily disciplines of engineering, production and competition meetings.
"We are thrilled to be able to continue our summer internship program with the Air Force Academy," said Scott McDougall, Director of Engineering at Richard Petty Motorsports. "This year, we will be working with two cadets for six weeks. During this time, we will be able to utilize their talents in aerodynamics as well as mechanical systems engineering. Both mechanical grip and aero dynamic balance are keys to being competitive in this sport. Both cadets come to us with cutting edge educations, and they are able to assist us in making our cars more competitive on the race track."