One Of The Strangest Questions We’ve Ever Heard

“Do your Baja and Formula Car Teams hate each other?” We were stunned today when an SAE official asked that question. That individual, who has worked many SAE events, said that it is not uncommon for teams from the same school to be at war, and refuse to even talk to each other.
It is a great tribute to our student teams the Missouri S&T’s scholastic vision that Rolla teams are the exact opposite of that scenario.
It’s been ten years since Missouri S&T established the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center (SDELC) to provide consolidated facilities, assistance and management for S&T’s premier student design teams that up until that point had largely been orphan groups. The center saves money by providing common use facilities and support staff, and helps to leverage large materiel and financial support that is shared among the teams.
Cramming most of these teams in a small production facility and emphasizing inter-team communication has developed a powerful atmosphere of mutual support. A team stumped by a technical problem realizes they can turn to the group next door who may have already found a solution to a similar dilemma, and learn from them.
A student with an especially valuable skill may find a ready home on more than one team that needs her specialized help. Teams can and do join forces to lobby the university for capital equipment that can be shared with all the students.
DSC_3680OU.jpgThis is where they develop the critical networking and team skills they’ll find very valuable when they join the workforce, This “group think” doesn’t just apply to your class- or team-mates; it also holds true for hundreds of your competitors. These competitions are more about learning than winning. Competitors eagerly share parts, tools and technical information because they all have a passion for this work, and they form friendships and professional contacts that will serve them well in their careers. They may well play practical jokes on the team across the paddock, make fun of each other, trade T-shirts or quietly ask “what the heck were they thinking??”, but they’ll all have the shared experience of being active on a design team
Now, how could they do any of that if they won’t even talk to each other? Ludicrous!