John Mativo, an associate professor in the department of career and information studies, was recognized as the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Outstanding Faculty Advisor at the International Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress Experience in Detriot, Michigan, earlier this year.
The award, presented to one faculty advisor each year in April, requires advisors have a minimum of three years of experience advising a collegiate chapter, have made significant contributions to the advancement of the chapter, and be nominated by students.
“[The SAE Outstanding Faculty Advisor award] is a recognition about being able to make a contribution to students to learn about vehicles,” Mativo said. “Especially using their engineering background and applying it to designing and building a vehicle from scratch, testing it, and meeting specifications that allow it to compete.”
In fall 2014, four students and Mativo organized the UGA chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers—later renamed UGA Motorsports.The club had a humble beginning, with each of the four members serving as officers.
Mativo and the student members raised awareness through activities including food sales, game nights, and taking advantage of any opportunity to spread the mission and goals of the organization across campus.
UGA Motorsports now has more than 100 members, and Mativo credits active officers, interest, relevance of the club activities to real life applications, and college support to the increasing numbers.
“Students see the relevance of what they learn in class and how they can apply it to real life situations,” he said.
The UGA Motorsports shop is located behind Driftmier Engineering Center. There, 60 members built a Formula Society of Automotive Engineers race car that competed in a student competition held in Lincoln, Nebraska, earlier this year. The five students that accompanied Mativo to represent UGA were Chris Parrish, Josh Pierson, Reese Macdonald, Seth Hibler, and Edwin Chiuz.
“When we went to compete [in Nebraska], the judges said they had never seen a team build a vehicle in one year and bring it to competition,” Mativo said. “They were impressed with what the students did and I too, was impressed.”
Nowadays, the group can be seen arms-deep in their latest project: a Champcar. The Champcar—unlike the Formula SAE—is not restricted to only university students and will compete at the end of this month.
Also in the works is a second version of the Formula SAE car. Eighty students are working on the vehicle, which is slated to compete in Canada in summer 2020.
“I consider the club activities as a learning tool—this is experiential learning for students,” he said. “It offers a platform for students to really get engaged and practice what they learn in classrooms and experience teamwork. This creates an atmosphere of the workplace, and I don’t see a substitute to that. I’m thankful that we have support from the College of Education and from the College of Engineering for such endeavors.”