UNM Mechanical Engineering student Alejandro Perez has been awarded a fellowship considered to be among the world's best. The “la Caixa” scholarships, from the leading savings bank in Spain, are designed for students to continue a passion they’ve been pursuing for many years, earn a master’s degree from a top university, and later contribute to the economic growth of their native country.
After working four years as an aeronautical engineer in Spain, Perez came to UNM to pursue the LoboMotorsports program, a three-semester credited course to learn racecar design and the business of automotive engineering.
“LoboMotorsports is a for-credit program with 20 students and it’s much different than the 100-member racecar club that a lot of universities have,” Perez said. “I really learned about car dynamics. It’s an intense program.”
Another attraction of the LoboMotorsports program is its use of an aerodynamic package.
“Not many teams have an aerodynamic package and at UNM, I was able to use Star-CCM+ software; a computational fluid dynamics state-of-the-art software that the Formula 1 teams use,” Perez said.
The software is uniquely suited to racing as it allows the car to move relative to the road with the wheels rotating; an important feature since the wheels are the primary source of drag. The parent company cd-Adapco is committed to preparing students for successful engineering careers and enabling them to have access to the software and providing a full range of tutorials and training.
Perez worked under Mechanical Engineering Professor John Russell, director of UNM’s FSAE program.
“Alejandro was one of the best students I have had in my 28 years of teaching," Russell said. "His ability to produce professional quality designs with minimal guidance was truly unique. Alejandro was a strong contributor to our 2013 aero team. He clearly impressed the judges at the 2013 Lincoln FSAE international competition with his complete knowledge of the design.”
Perez says with the preparation from the LoboMotorsports program, he will pursue a master’s program at The University of Southampton in the UK, where he has been admitted to their prestigious race car aerodynamics program. The University of Southampton has played a key role in the development of Formula 1 racing over several decades.
Perez’ ultimate goal is to join a Formula One team. Russell has no doubt this will happen. “Alejandro’s studies in the premier race car aerodynamics program in the world combined with his UNM FSAE experience certainly will lead to fulfilling his life-long goal,” he said.
Story by Tamara Williams (505) 277-5859; email: firstname.lastname@example.org