By Don McHoull
Sometimes I wonder if this university has a fear of winning.
What else could explain the administration’s decision to provide such inadequate funding to our Formula SAE team?
Formula SAE, for those who haven’t read the article on page three yet, is a contest that pits teams of engineering students against one another to build and race miniature race cars.
Universities from all over North America compete in this race. Even though Ryerson was pitted against teams that were better funded, they came in 23rd in a field of more than a hundred.
Even more impressive, Ryerson had the second best results of any university in Canada, coming out ahead of numerous supposedly more “prestigious” engineering schools.
You would think after a showing like that, Ryerson would fork over some more cash. If our engineers can turn in results like that on a shoestring budget, just think what they could do with the $25,000 that the University of Guelph gave its team.
Instead, our team has to make do with $7,000 from Ryerson, and whatever handouts they can get from their sponsors.
I guess this is really just par for the course. If the university can get by begging for handouts from the private sector, why shouldn’t students be able to do the same?
It doesn’t make sense to me that the university can afford to spend, for example, more than $100,000 a year on a hockey team, but can find only a fraction of that for the racing team.
What benefit do we get in return for spending all that money on hockey? I’m sure the team benefits the players, and its handful of fans, but the chances of it winning a championship and scoring a publicity bonanza for Ryerson are pretty remote.
The Formula SAE team seems like a much better investment. What better showcase could there be for the abilities of Ryerson engineering students?
Ryerson is a school that prides itself on graduating students who are able to succeed in the real world.
Imagine the publicity we could reap if our engineers built a faster car than any other engineering students in North America.
That’s the kind of thing Ryerson could use to sell itself to prospective students. Just think how great that would look on the pages of one of those glossy brochures the university loves to hand out.
A smart strategy for the university would be to find its strengths and play to them. If a team does well, give it money.
Sadly, Ryerson seems too short-sighted to do this.
Maybe the university is going to come to the racing team’s rescue at the last minute, like it did last year when it came up with $18,000 just weeks before the race.
But why leave the team hanging? They deserve better than that.