Genius Garage Beginnings
2014 was the inaugural year of the Genius Garage program and set a standard which inspired support that made the 2015 team possible. In the first year, the students’ education centered around the 1997 Reynard Champ-Indy car which was originally owned by the Hogan team, powered by Mercedes, and driven by Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti. In the course of the Genius Garage program, the students took the rolling chassis of the Reynard and did all of the engineering and technical work to integrate the new Chevrolet engine. This was no small feat for a fully stressed engine integration in such a sophisticated racing car. Of course, their work included set-up of the entire car for competition from gearbox to aerodynamics, but went so far that the students designed their own electronic fuel injection and ignition system as well-programmed the engine management. In short, what the students accomplished over the course of the program is actually more difficult that what a modern Indy Car team does to set up a new car.
Led by program director Casey Putsch the students came together in true team spirit to prepare their car in three and a half months and enter the first amateur race ever held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Each student was responsible for different facets of the team. Public Relations and Media, Drivetrain, Cockpit, Aero and Chassis, etc.
The students were also given a research paper assignment where they had to learn about various global CEO’s and then in turn write the paper as if they were giving advice to a business leader who was considering dealing with said CEO’s. The purpose of the assignment was to give them an objective where they are forced to think in terms of the “big picture”. Through the course of the program, the student’s progress was guided by some of the best professionals who acted as mentors.