Students at the University of Connecticut have the chance to try everything, from skydiving to racecar driving. With more than 350 extracurricular clubs and activities being offered by the school, students have plenty with which to fill their down time.
The UConn Formula SAE (FSAE) Racing Team is a collegiate team that designs, builds, and races a formula race car. With students from a variety of majors, UConn’s FSAE team traveled to the Michigan FSAE competition this year, where the UConn design was named the fastest car without an aerodynamic package.
According to Pauline Menoret, the Formula SAE club president, “[The club] provides an unmatched, real-world, learning opportunity to all its members. It requires us to do everything from managing a team to marketing, fabrication, design, driver training and much more. Simply put, it’s the best experience short of working in the automotive industry a young student could hope for.” Menoret is a fifth-semester mechanical engineering student.
The UConn Skydiving club organizes both competitive and non-competitive jumps. While returning members hone their skydiving skills, new members go through the process of learning how to dive.
“Skydiving helps you push yourself beyond what you thought you could do. Everything tells you to stop but you jump anyways and it’s exhilarating that way. Every student should try it; it makes you way cooler than all your friends,” said Steph Krar, the Skydiving club president. Krar is a fifth-semester biological sciences student.
Among the many different skydiving disciplines, UConn frequently competes in two-, four-, and six-person formation skydiving, which is where teams complete as many formations as possible in a given timeframe. Each formation is worth one point, and the team with the most points wins. UConn also competes in 2-way vertical formation skydiving and sport accuracy, where the goal is to land your parachute as close to a target as possible.
The team’s home drop zone is Connecticut Parachutists in Ellington, CT. Members train virtually non-stop for collegiate nationals but also like to jump with friends when they can. To train, they often go to the wind tunnel in Nashua, NH, and jump from Twin Otters. According to the club’s website, “The wind tunnel is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It allows us to fly in a vertical column of air, simulating freefall. Some of us think the wind tunnel is more fun than jumping! Aside from training and jumping, we also enjoy doing other things together like skiing, snowboarding, climbing, swimming, and other various activities.”
Four team members won the gold medal in the four-way formation skydiving event at the 2016 U.S. Parachute Association National Collegiate Parachuting Championships.
“We all really focused and I’m not sure what happened, but something clicked and in that last round we had our best jump we had ever done,” Krar said. “It was such an incredible feeling; we all landed and high-fived and hugged each other and had huge smiles because we knew we had put everything into that jump. We were so proud.”