For the past two years, senior Alex Levy has served as president of WashU Racing, a student club that designs, builds and assembles a Formula-style race car for the annual college competition at Michigan International Speedway. The work is exhausting, challenging and dirty. Levy loves it.
“You spend a lot of late nights underneath the car covered in grease,” said Levy, who is set to graduate in May with a degree in mechanical engineering from the McKelvey School of Engineering. “But there is no better feeling than watching the car you designed and built with your friends rip in front of you.”
An expert in suspension systems, Levy redesigned the car to handle higher speeds while still gripping the road. He also oversaw the production of about 1,000 parts in Jubel and Urbauer halls’ machine shops, which boast state-of-the-art CNC lathes, mills and grinding machines.
“We manufacture 90% of the car, everything from sand-casted custom oil pan to carbon-fiber suspension linkages,” Levy said.
But Levy’s biggest challenge may have been supporting his 60 members during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The slogan for leadership has been ‘What can we do for you?” Levy said. “When the pandemic hit, I realized extracurriculars mean different things to different people. For some people, it felt trivial. For others, it provided a little bit of normalcy. As a leader, it was important to respect where people were at.”
WashU Racing will not compete this spring, opting instead to focus on 2022. Levy has set an audacious goal for his successors: finish in the top 10. In 2019, WashU Racing took 47th place in a field of some 120.
“Maybe we meet that goal; maybe we don’t,” said Levy, who will stay at McKelvey Engineering to earn his graduate degree. “But I want everyone to go, ‘Is that the same Washington University that we saw a couple of years ago?’”
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