Student Spotlight: Sophia Clark, ME Undergraduate and Chief Engineer of Gopher Motorsports

Gopher Motorsports, our Formula SAE student group, had an excellent summer. This group provides a hands-on experience designing and building experience and is sponsored by countless industry partners, offering excellent opportunities for students. ME undergrad and Gopher Motorsports Chief Engineer Sophia Clark answered a few questions about the group. 

1) What race did you participate in recently? 

Formula SAE in June. We competed at Michigan International Speedway against other student built Electric Formula 1 cars. There were over 60 teams present from all over the world. 

2) How has the team placed in this race in recent years? 

This is Gopher Motorsports’ second year bringing an electric car to competition. Last year, the car never drove. We placed 19th due to design points. This year, our only goal was to bring a driving car to competition. We crushed that goal and brought a reliable car to competition. We placed fourth in endurance, third in efficiency, and fifth in cost contributing to an overall seventh place win. For Gopher Motorsports, this was our first time finishing the endurance event since 2019. That alone was a huge win. 

3) What was the race like for you? 

For me, that week in Michigan was really exciting. Every day brought new challenges and new wins. We flew through technical inspection and were able to compete in the dynamic events quickly. This allowed us to put up scores in each event. A lot of our success can be attributed to strategy during race week. We were very strategic about how we approached different competition events. The team was also very focused when it came to getting the car ready to compete. Finishing the last event (endurance) was an incredible feeling. At that point, everyone was ecstatic with how the car performed and were eagerly talking about redesigns and improvements for next year. I feel like we really came together as a team that final week. 

4) How has being a part of Gopher Motorsports benefited you as a future engineer? 

Being a part of Gopher Motorsports has been a major part of my education. I feel much more confident in my engineering background and technical skills when making design decisions. I have grown both as a leader and as an individual contributor. This experience has been invaluable to me, as I am confident in my engineering capabilities and know I will succeed in the future. 

solar vehicle with student team standing behind in the line