Engineering student has ‘formula’ for success

Student Spotlight
Brian Guenther, fifth-year mechanical engineering

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Fifth-year mechanical engineering student Brian Guenther serves as project manager for the RIT Formula SAE racing team. The team will compete in two major competitions in May and August.

Fifth-year engineering student Brian Guenther is the project manager of the RIT Formula SAE Racing Team. In this role, he is responsible for coordinating funding, sponsorship and scheduling. Every year, the Formula team constructs a new car from scratch and competes in several competitions across the country and internationally. The car will be unveiled to the public at the Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival on May 4.

Question: Where are you from?
Answer: Rochester, N.Y.

Q: What brought you to RIT?
A: One of the biggest factors for me was RIT’s career-focused style of education. I really liked being able to get so much real-world work experience in my field before graduating. While the co-op program is certainly a central part of that, the school’s support for other opportunities for practical experience put it well above all the other schools I was considering.

Q: What has been your favorite thing about RIT?
A: My favorite thing at RIT has been being a member of the Formula SAE team. It’s been great being a part of such a passionate and dedicated group. I love starting off with basically a blank sheet of paper and then working throughout the year to build a racecar that we engineered ourselves.

Q: What’s in store for the Formula SAE team this upcoming season?
A: It’s going to be a very exciting season for us. We’ll be traveling to two competitions, one in Michigan during May and another in Germany during August. We’ve been working extremely hard all year to build a car that can win both competitions. Michigan is the biggest competition in the world, with about 120 schools competing. When we travel to Germany, we’ll be defending our previous year’s victory in the endurance event.

Q: What are some of the new features of the car this year?
A: We’ve really pushed the boundaries for our new car for this year. We’ve integrated a turbocharger into the engine package to generate additional horsepower without burning too much fuel. We have more efficient wings that generate additional downforce with less drag. We’re using carbon fiber for critical load-bearing structures throughout the car. Across the board, we’ve spent more time analyzing each component to shave weight. The analysis has been backed up with physical testing, so we’re confident that the lightened parts will still be strong enough.

Q: What advice would you give to other RIT students?
A: RIT puts in a lot of resources to support the clubs and organizations on campus—take advantage of all the support and become involved in something worthwhile.

Q: What are your plans for after graduation?
A: Right now, I’m looking for a mechanical design/analysis position somewhere within the aerospace industry.

Matt Gregory compiles “Student Spotlights” for University News. Contact him at with suggestions.