Women with Drive Conference inspires grad students
Earlier this month, graduate students Laura Friedmann and Amanda Perez attended the Women with Drive III Conference, hosted by Women in Motorsports North America in Avondale, Arizona. There were approximately 450 attendees, ranging from high schoolers to sports communication specialists to industry professionals. During the conference, Friedmann and Perez attended breakout sessions, got pit passes for a NASCAR race at Phoenix Raceway, won prizes and networked. They even had a competition to see who could get the most business cards during the conference and Perez (with the help of Friedmann) ended up winning! Perez remarked that, “We had so many phenomenal conversations and learned about opportunities we didn’t even know existed before.”
Friedmann is a Graduate Research Assistant and team lead for the Buckeye Current team. She has been involved with motorsports since high school and is very passionate about land speed racing. Friedmann has mainly been involved with engineering and racing, but at the conference she got to speak with event coordinators and found that she might be interested in doing that as well.
Perez is newer to Ohio State. In addition to being a Graduate Research Assistant, Friedmann called Perez “an honorary member” of the Buckeye Current team. While Perez was deciding if Ohio State was the right fit for graduate school, she met with Assistant Director of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Marcello Canova, as well as Research Scientist Jeffrey Chrstos, who works with simulation and has held previous roles in Formula 1 Racing. After talking to them, Perez was sold on Ohio State. Ultimately, she wants to work in Formula 1 as a race engineer.
While the conference was a lot of fun and games, they also did some reflection. During one of the talks, former
race car driver Lyn St. James said, “We can’t just keep talking to ourselves; we need to get more young women involved.” Inspired by the conference, Perez has started work on a one-stop shop website for women in motorsports. She wants all the resources in one place for women who might be interested in motorsports and don’t know where to start. Perez currently has a business plan drafted up and wants to pitch it to some of the people she met at the conference.
Both Friedmann and Perez loved the conference and have plans to attend it next year in Indianapolis. Friedmann says, “Motorsports can be competitive, but people there were so open. It was so worth our time.”
Written by Cassie Forsha, CAR writing intern