The University of Regina’s Cougar Motorsports team was resurrected three years ago, after not competing since the 2000-2001 school year.
This year, says team captain and fourth year student Avery Folk, the team is “building an off-road race car to compete in an international competition as apart of SAE’s [The Society of Automotive Engineers] International Collegiate Design Series.”
The team builds and competes with Baja cars, and have done this for the last three years, winning a spot in the top ten.
“[The team] represents our university, there is no other big way that any team can represent the [Engineering] Faculty and the entire school the way we do internationally, competing at the level that we do, because we are a top ten team,” Folk said.
Yet, getting to the top ten has not been easy for Cougar Motorsports. Compared to other U of R sports teams, the Motorsports team does not get as much funding as do other teams from their respective institutions. Folk says that other top ten teams “receive, from what we’ve heard, a $10,000 sponsorship from their faculty right off the bat.”
However, the U of R has contributed in other ways to the team. For instance, the University has been taking care of the student-built garage the car is being built in. The Faculty of Engineering, which has not contributed a big sum of money to the team, has helped in supplying a welder to help the team build their cars.
“I wish that our faculty would be able to support Cougar Motorsports more, because the things they are doing are wonderful, and bring such positive exposure to the University, but we don’t have money. I don’t know what we can do to get them money.” – David deMontigny
David deMontigny is the Associate Dean of Engineering, Special Projects and Student Services. He supports the work the team is doing, but he says money is tight.
“I wish that our faculty would be able to support Cougar Motorsports more, because the things they are doing are wonderful, and bring such positive exposure to the University, but we don’t have money. I don’t know what we can do to get them money.”
Nevertheless, Folk and the team have not been deterred, and have sought sponsorship from various companies, while still trying to contact the Faculty of Engineering Dean, Paitoon Tontiwachwuthikul.
“We have to fundraise most the money ourselves by getting sponsorship. So we go to different businesses in Regina, some outside of Regina as well, but mainly smaller corporations, and ask for small donations either monetary or in services … and material,” explained Folk.
While Folk and the team have yet to meet with the Dean, they said getting a meeting will be hard.
“It’s not the easiest thing to communicate with him, because he’s a very busy man obviously, but he did say that he would provide us with some communications, at least, with different businesses in the city.”
The Carillon tried to contact Tontiwachwuthikul, but did not get a response before publication.
When asked if he thinks the Dean would be willing to help, Folk was a bit skeptical.
“On his account, not really; it’s not his interest. He’s into research, and he’s on the petroleum side of things, so he doesn’t understand … what this group is and what benefits we have for the entire university and specifically the Engineering Faculty.”
While Tontiwachwuthikul may not be very enthusiastic about the team, Folk said U of R President, Vianne Timmons, encouraged different people to sponsor the team, and has been a great advocate.
“The success that they have earned is fully on their shoulders. I don’t know if the faculty can lay any claim to that success because we really haven’t been a part of supporting it … personally I’m quiet proud of what they achieved,” explained deMontigny.
The Motorsports team is not only for Engineering students, and its members welcome all students to join. Seven of the team’s members will be graduating this year, and they are hoping to recruit new members. This year, the team includes business students, and a group of Brazilian exchange students.
Cougar Motorsports will be participating in their first race on May 14.
Photo courtesy of Cougar Motorsports