A New Kind of Family

It is not a secret that students who choose to attend university are not only looking forward to getting their education, but also hoping to meet interesting people and build lasting friendships. Those who are lucky enjoy various club activities together with people who share the same interests. Students build new families within clubs, and many times, the ties last beyond the university years. They get to know each other and build strong bonds based on trust, support, and respect for each other. 

One of the active clubs on the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University campus is Redline Racing Division (RRD). The members of this club built a very tight-knit family. They are so close that they decided to respond to this interview as a group instead of choosing just one person to represent the club. The members of the RRD who joined this interview were Devon Kisfalvi, Electrical Engineering, Electrical and Integration Lead; Kyllian Kraft, Aerospace Engineering – Aero, Vice-President; Brendan Gofshteyn, Mechanical Engineering – Prop, President; Jared Tyburec, Electrical Engineering, Chassis Team Lead; Matthew Prevatt, Aerospace Engineering – Astro, Director of Aerodynamics; and Zachary Felton-Priestner, Aerospace Engineering – Aero, Engine Team Lead.

 “Redline Racing is a student run team that is designing and manufacturing a Formula SAE car. One of the club’s main goals is to help students on campus obtain engineering design and manufacturing experience that doesn’t require any prior engineering knowledge or an application process,” RRD mentioned.

Like all areas of our lives, RRD was also affected by the COVID-19 restrictions. Before the pandemic, the different sub-teams of RRD could meet in person: “Before COVID-19, the admin team used to meet at the library. The chassis, engine, and electrical team used to meet at the shop located at the F1 building at the Flight Line.” As of now, most of the meetings are conducted online, except some in-person shop meetings that occur at very limited capacity. RRD had to be split into groups in order to be able to go to the workshop to work on the chassis and engine.

Like some other clubs on campus that need funds for construction materials, RRD also found itself struggling with having enough money to continue its project. “Another major hardship is fundraising for the team, which has started to become increasingly difficult,” noted RRD. But the biggest hardship that probably most of the clubs are facing, including RRD, is “some members are less motivated, and the overall morale of the club has decreased because of the online work.” 

The work of RRD is limited, so progress on the project has slowed down considerably compared to before the pandemic. Design of the components still continues, since that can be completed online, but major construction has decreased significantly. The members of RRD said that “the new activities the club has been doing because of the restrictions are more research and CAD work. Also, more planning has been done for when we can get more people back into the shop.”

On the question of how they personally feel about the “new club” compared to how the club functioned in the past, Matthew Prevatt responded, “We set high expectations for the progress we want to make as well as the opportunities that we provide to our members. Unfortunately, this has decreased below what we would like; however, we believe that we can still get back to a level of quality that we are satisfied with despite the new challenges we face.”  RRD also agreed that “overall club growth has stopped. Also, due to the COVID regulation, the club isn’t able to provide students with hands on experience. Some of the members are feeling disconnected from other members because most of the work is being done online, and previously, a lot of the club’s interacting was done at the shop or during the club events. The overall team atmosphere is degrading.” 

However, despite all the setbacks, RRD is still optimistic about the future: “Our club still has a future, and we are working hard every day towards that future where we can see a fully functioning car that can race around a track. Even though we did have to cancel some of our original plans and have encountered setbacks, none of these problems are insurmountable, and we are in the process of overcoming all of them.”