The Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) is known for its hands-on student projects. But if you want to see the school’s latest endeavor, don’t blink! With the help of PTC solutions, students have been working on a 27-foot-long jet dragster that generates 5000 horsepower, exceeding 280 miles per hour in less than six seconds. The driver? Shea Holbrook, the first woman ever to win a major touring race (the Long Beach Grand Prix).
Here’s how one of the world’s top technical universities got into the business of fast cars, fast women, and lifecycle management.
In 2014, Florida Tech began teaming up with Larsen Motorsports to provide hands-on experiences to its students. Larsen is a multi-team, national racing organization that specializes in turbine-powered high-performance vehicles. The company also promotes STEM advocacy, providing unique and valuable hands-on experiences to the FIT students.
“We had our eye on Florida Tech for some time,” says Elaine Larsen who cofounded Larsen Motorsports and is one its leading racecar drivers. “The university is a first-tier, private research institution that is experiencing rapid growth in a number of areas of interest to LMS. Our partnership allows us both to collaborate in ways unique to education and the motorsports industry.”
With the Larsen partnership, students at the school now train in a number of areas related to racing, including aerospace, engineering, business, and project management. Developing a close relationship with the race team proves a unique way for a high-tech curriculum to show off real world results.
At about the same time, Florida Tech received a gift valued at $24.1 million from PTC. The donation includes seats of PTC Creo and PTC Windchill, and 20 scholarships to make sure they can use the software optimally. With PTC Creo, students have a full-blown professional 3D design tool they can use for everything from concept design to detailed modeling and simulations.
PTC Windchill then provides the product lifecycle management all manufacturers need to make sure development processes—like change notifications and revision control—don’t spin out of control. With PTC Windchill, students manage everything from sourcing materials to disposing of an old chassis that’s no longer safe for competition. PTC Windchill helps them track everything the team buys, produces, uses, and discards for the dragster. Why should students, who probably won’t be around for more than one or two revisions, care about lifecycle management?
“The global design process adopted by many manufacturers requires an understanding of product lifecycle management,” says John Stuart, senior vice president, global education, PTC. “Manufacturers want people that understand all aspects of smart, connected product design to help them make smarter decisions to build better products.”
Using PTC Creo and PTC Windchill gives a leg up to students who want to understand the complete development cycle. At the same time, they’re collecting valuable experiences on an unusually fun project and can take those experiences into the job market after graduation.
So how’s the car doing in its first few months?
The Florida Institute of Technology car didn’t bring back a trophy in the year’s first race, but it did make a great showing. Students can still be proud that their partners, Larsen Motorsports, won the 2015 Good Vibrations Nitro Jam Southwestern Nationals with another car. This potent combination of a championship race team, PTC software, and Florida Tech’s high-tech education program promises a bright future. It’s safe to say this trio will continue to achieve some of the fastest results in the country.
Ed – Watch this video to learn more about the PTC Global Academic Program: