By Matthew Tulloch
Despite a funding crisis, Ryerson’s talented Formula SAE team will be able to compete this season following a last-minute donation from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.
Team captain Robert Szybalski, teammate Adam Ballard and RyeSAC President Ken Marciniec were able to convince Stalin Boctor, dean of Ryerson’s department of engineering and applied science, to donate the $6,000 to cover this year’s budget shortfall.
“With this funding from the Faculty of Engineering we will be able to compete this year,” Szybalski said.
Last season, Ryerson was the second ranked Canadian team, placing 23rd overall in a field of 123 competitors. With such success behind them, many feel the team should receive more financial support from the school.
At the University of Toronto, administration has yet to etch SAE into their annual budget, but according to team captain Vinh Pham, the engineering department’s contribution always meets his team’s needs.
“The last three years have been very good.” Pham said. “They’re very supportive to the point they like us here and we have no problems getting the money we need.
“If we screw up or have a bad season, that’s when we have to watch out.”
This year, 34 per cent of U of T’s SAE budget came from university donations. Similarly, the team at the University of Western Ontario says at least 35 per cent of their budget comes from their school. Thanks to zealous sponsors, the University of Waterloo’s SAE team often requires significantly less, but is always assured that their engineering department will cover any shortfall, which this year was $4,000.
Almost every year a team of Ryerson engineering students assembles to compete in the Society of Automotive Engineers’ annual formula racing series. University teams from all around the world design, build, and drive their own formula race car in a number of events for overall ranking. The competition gives students practical engineering experience and also serves as free advertisement for schools that perform well. However, participation has its cost: upwards of $55,000.
Boctor acknowledged Formula SAE’s contribution to the school’s reputation.
“The team helps make the name of our university known in the U.S.,” he said.
Szybalski is also aware of the reputation a winning SAE team builds for Ryerson.
“I recall the announcer stating our lap times, which were consecutively at the top of the pack, and hearing whispers saying: where are these guys from? Where is Ryerson?” he said.
Department funding for formula SAE in 2005 is uncertain. It’s possible that Ryerson’s team will receive school money next season, but Boctor said they will just have to wait until the end of May to find out after he and his colleagues work on the faculty budget.
Marciniec said he will continue to work with the SAE team to secure funding for the 2005 season. This year RyeSAC gave $10,000 to the team. In total, 30 per cent of the team’s 2004 budget will come from Ryerson and the rest from corporate sponsorship.