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Friday, June 24, 2022

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The Aztec Racing club received funding from the Student Success Fee. The Aztec Racing club received funding from the Student Success Fee.

Student Success Fee Funds New Ideas

The fee allows SDSU students and faculty to fund innovative endeavors.
By Jamie Ballard

“When I got the email that we had received $25,000, I screamed!” recalled Rida Alvi, mechanical engineering student and president of Aztec Racing, the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers Club at San Diego State University. Aztec Racing is just one of the many student organizations that have received funding as a result of the Student Success Fee. 

Double the Funding
Alvi said that in years past, the team has received $10,000 to $15,000 total from SDSU and other sponsors. When she heard about the opportunity for Student Success Fee proposals, she wanted to know more. Theresa Garcia, the assistant dean at the College of Engineering encouraged Alvi to apply for funding on behalf of Aztec Racing. Though Alvi was hesitant to ask for such a large sum of money, she applied anyway.
“I was worried that if I put too much down, they wouldn’t take me seriously,” she said. “I applied in September, and then a couple months later I got the email that we had gotten the entire amount we had asked for,” said Alvi. “Just getting that amount meant so much to us as a team.” 
$150,000 from Academic Affairs 
Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathryn LaMaster said proposals like Alvi’s went through three levels of review to determine funding. Committees reviewing the proposals were made up of faculty, staff and students from all of the colleges, as well as several members of the administration. 
“There were over 200 proposals submitted initially,” she said. “And we had just over 100 at the second level.” 

Ten percent of the Student Success Fee revenue equated to $300,000 to distribute to proposals, but LaMaster said that Provost and Senior Vice President Chukuka Enwemeka was so impressed with the quality of the proposals that he had Academic Affairs contribute an additional $150,000. This allowed another 27 proposals to be funded. The projects include ideas from all seven colleges, as well as a campus-wide category. They are designed to reach as many students as possible, primarily through public events and competitions which welcome students.  A total of 81 projects were funded.

“That was really exciting, that academic affairs was able to put the money in because of his enthusiasm,” she commented. “It’s a very exciting thing that you can have all of these events to go to, based on your Student Success Fee,” she pointed out. “And with the funding available, you’re able to focus on your event.”  
Innovative Ideas 
Some of the other funded proposals include bringing guest speakers to campus, hosting conferences and showcases, and participating in academic competitions. Projects like the Multicultural Mental Health Speakers Series in the College of Education and San Diego Sports Business Summit in the College of Business Administration have already hosted successful events as a result of the funding.  

Alvi’s proposal for the the Aztec Racing club, which builds race cars for international competition, helped offset many of expenses incurred for auto parts as the club builds an entirely new car every year. She said that in the past, they’ve had to reuse old, often less effective parts. The cars are named after the year in which they’re built, so 2014’s car was AR-14, this year’s team is working on AR-15. 

“It’s so much of a gamble” said Alvi of incorporating all the aspects into an effective new model. “What’s really helped us is that we’ve been able to buy all new components and still keep the AR -14 intact, and still build AR-15.”

“What really helps a team succeed is that they have multiple cars to test on, now we can work on AR-15 and still take AR-14 out and test things. Like say if we want to try something but we’re not sure if it’ll work, we can put it in AR-14 and keep testing it,” Alvi said. 

The Aztec Racing club was one of 11 projects from the College of Engineering that received funding. Other projects in the college include building a water tunnel, entry in a concrete canoe competition, and the building of a robotic submarine for competition. 

For more on the Student Success Fee, visit its website here.