Academy teams-up with NASCAR for summer internship

Cadet 2nd Class Alexander Hill pilots a glider over Colorado Springs. He and Cadet 2nd Class Alexander Hill are scheduled to spend their summer internship with Richard Petty Motorsports in Mooresville, North Carolina, researching ways to improve the team's NASCAR racecar. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Cadet 2nd Class Alexander Hill pilots a glider over Colorado Springs. He and Cadet 2nd Class Alexander Hill are scheduled to spend their summer internship with Richard Petty Motorsports in Mooresville, North Carolina, researching ways to improve the team's NASCAR racecar. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Cadet 2nd Class Karl Sapper walks across the air field at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and Cadet 2nd Class Alexander Hill will spend their summer internship working to improve racecar technology for NASCAR's Ricard Petty Motorsports in Mooresville, North Carolina. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Cadet 2nd Class Karl Sapper walks across the air field at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and Cadet 2nd Class Alexander Hill will spend their summer internship working to improve racecar technology for NASCAR's Ricard Petty Motorsports in Mooresville, North Carolina. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. --

Two engineering majors at the Air Force Academy will get in high gear this summer with NASCAR.

Cadets 2nd Class Alexander Hill and Karl Sapper are scheduled to join Richard Petty Motorsports in Mooresville, North Carolina, for a six week summer internship and use their talents to improve the company’s race-car performance

Sapper said he’ll apply modeling and software used on Air Force aircraft to improve the structural design of the car. He’ll research braking capabilities and analyzing critical dampening which measures spring and shock changes.

“I'm most excited to have the chance to meet and get to know members of the racing industry,” Sapper said. “I hope to learn more about how actual projects work and how to optimize their efficiency.”

Hill will bring his own racing experience to the internship. He’s attended BMW's Performance Driving School and entered the RMSolo Auto-cross league in Colorado, among other competitions. He’ll research improving the racecar’s aerodynamic capabilities.

“I am positive working with the Richard Petty Motorsports team will prepare me to be a better student and teammate by developing my teamwork skills through working with other passionate car enthusiasts who possess a wide variety of skills,” he said. “I’m excited to put my engineering skills to the test in a real-world environment.” 

Hill and Sapper will get a chance to review the team’s library of simulation outputs and look for the potential to improve racing-simulation results. They'll also attend the team’s engineering, production and competition meetings.

Scott McDougall, director of engineering at Richard Petty Motorsports, said the team is pleased to continue its six-week summer internship program with the Academy.

“During this time, we will be able to utilize [the cadet’s] talents in aerodynamics as well as mechanical systems engineering,” he said. “Both mechanical grip and aero-dynamic balance are keys to being competitive in this sport. Both cadets come to us with cutting-edge educations and they are able to assist us in making our cars more competitive on the race track.”