Casey Strong couldn't wait to arrive in Rapid City to begin classes at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. He was leaving his hometown in Ellendale, North Dakota for a chance to adventure in the Black Hills.
But it wasn't the hills where he would spend his time. Instead, Strong found himself on campus getting his hands dirty designing and building off-road cars.
He joined two dozen other students on the South Dakota Mines Baja SAE team. The team designs and builds a Baja car each school year for a chance to race against 100+ international teams.
During his freshman and sophomore years he and his teammates packed in a 12 passenger van to compete in Oregon and California. Traveling with the team allowed him to experience things he hadn't before, like his first In-N-Out Burger.
"Not only is it a cool competition but also it gives you a chance to explore and do something that you won't ever do except in a college setting," Strong said.
His design knowledge and dedication on the team helped him earn a nine-month internship with Applied Research Associates located in the Ascent Innovation Center. The Rapid City branch of ARA is currently designing material characterization tests to support the Air Force. Strong says it's rewarding to see the final product after all the design work, "Getting to complete the test with the hardware that I’ve been designing and building will be more rewarding than just doing the hardware."
When asked if he hopes to remain with the ARA team following his internship, Strong stated "It would be cool to work here... forever. Or at least the foreseeable future.”
Learn more about Applied Research Associate.