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The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Longhorn Racing, Cockrell School of Engineering receive over $200,000 donation

Naina Srivastava
Mechanical engineering senior Anh Tran works at a machine at a Lonhorn Racing work day on Oct. 28, 2023.

Financial company Santander Consumer USA Inc. gifted $25,000 to the Longhorn Racing Team last month, establishing a partnership that will help the student organization source parts for the vehicles it will submit for competition next year. 

LHR celebrated the partnership at the Formula 1 race at the Circuit of the Americas in late October, where some members met engineers and driver Charles Leclerc from the Ferrari team, who Santander Consumer sponsors. LHR corporate relations officer Pranav Yedavelli said each of the three cars the team is constructing will cost about $50,000 to $60,000, so the money from Santander Consumer is a big financial support. 

“Trying to get $200,000 a year (is) no easy, small task at all,” Yedavelli said. “There’s always a push at the end to fully get things covered.” 

Christopher Pfirrman, chairman of the board for the Santander Consumer USA Inc. Foundation, said the company wanted to invest in the education of science, technology, engineering and math students specifically because innovation often emerges from those fields. In addition to supporting UT-Austin, the foundation also gifted sponsorships to UT-Dallas. Santander Consumer is committed to philanthropy in cities where they work, such as Dallas and Austin, he said. 

“Right now, there aren’t a lot of problems you can solve in the world that don’t involve someone in STEM,” Pfirrman said. 

Within LHR there are three subteams: combustion, electric and solar, each referring to how the car is powered. Yedavelli said each team designs and constructs a vehicle during the fall and spring semesters, eventually showcasing it at a competition at the end of the academic year. The combustion team competes in May and the electric team in June, both of which are part of the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers, he said. Yedavelli also said the solar team competes in the American Solar Challenge, which takes place in July. 

LHR is always looking to improve the speed and efficiency of its vehicles, he said, and the $25,000 gift allows students to expand innovation and test the boundaries of collegiate racing. 

“We’re never complacent or satisfied with the cars we build,” Yedavelli said. “There’s always improvements that we can make.” 

In addition to supporting LHR, Santander Consumer gifted $212,500 to the Cockrell School of Engineering to be distributed in the form of scholarships. Bruce Costner, the director of development for principal gifts in the Cockrell School of Engineering, said the scholarships will be awarded to three students and split over four years, totaling about $17,000 annually for each student. The company’s gift to the school and LHR reminds students who are interested in automotive engineering what their degree can lead to, he said. 

Costner said he expects the scholarship applications to open in the summer, and they will be a combination of need-based and merit-based. 

“It’s just one of those things that makes perfect sense, with the racetrack being here (and) Longhorn Racing being here,” Costner said. “The quality of the engineering students is just phenomenal. … At the end of the day, it was really a wonderful match.” 


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About the Contributors
Sarah Brager, General News Reporter
Sarah is a journalism junior from Buda, Texas. She's currently a senior news reporter, and she previously worked as a life and arts reporter and an opinion columnist. When she's not reporting for the Texan, Sarah loves hiking, drinking outrageous amounts of coffee and doing crossword puzzles.
Naina Srivastava, Senior News Reporter & Senior Photographer
Naina is a freshman journalism major from Mountain View, California. She is currently a senior news reporter and senior photographer at the Texan.