UWP student interns with NASCAR

September 16, 2002

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2002_09_16.jpgPLATTEVILLE-Feeling the thunder of the speedway, University of Wisconsin-Platteville student Michael Fanning of Janesville spent his summer testing race cars for NASCAR.

Fanning, a senior at UWP majoring in industrial technology management, began his internship with NASCAR at the end of May in Mooresville, N.C. The unique internship opportunity resulted from a phone call Fanning made on a whim.

"I had heard about the internship from one of my friends, and one day decided to call the race shop," Fanning said. "The guy who answered the phone was the owner. After several phone calls, discussing my credentials and what they were looking for in an intern, I was given the job."

Fanning joined two other student interns and a professional engineer to make up the race car's engineering department. The group tested race cars using computer simulations and research and development methods. Fanning was also involved in the communications and public relations aspect of the NASCAR, setting up tours, show car appearances and developing the overall image of the racing team.

The internship offered a number of unique challenges and benefits to Fanning, a newcomer to the sport of NASCAR racing.

"When I came into racing at the beginning of the summer, I didn't know a whole lot about the sport," Fanning said. "To step into something and be expected to know the details of racing was a challenge. There is so much information to absorb, but once I got over the hump, I really felt comfortable with the work I was doing."

Applying the skills acquired through the internship into the classroom and professional world will be a natural transition, Fanning said.

"There are so many elements of racing - the safety, the engineering design - that are related to the things we study at UWP," Fanning said. "Participating in an internship like this really allows one to apply theory to real-life examples.

"Internships also make one more well rounded. When entering the workforce, knowing just technology, science or math isn't enough. One needs to be able to connect and communicate with people, a skill this internship really helped me fine tune."

The highlight of Fanning's internship was a two-day testing trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500.

"We had a chance to apply what we had learned with the race car this summer at the most legendary race track in the world," Fanning said. "We tested how the driver responded to the car, the comfort of the car and the car's performance - if it was fast enough."

Fanning is the son of Terry and Deborah Fanning of Janesville. Originally an engineering major, Fanning switched to an industrial technology management major because he enjoyed the business aspect of design as well as the technical side. In his free time, he enjoys radio and public address and can be heard announcing various Pioneer sporting events.

The NASCAR will be on campus from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, September 26, in front of the Pioneer Student Center.

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