Reaching the Finish Line: Briana’s Path to Motorsport Engineering

When you think about programs you can pursue through Virginia’s Community Colleges, what comes to mind? Probably not motorsport engineering.

While this may be a male-dominated field, Briana Wood has never let that deter her from pursuing a career as a motorsport engineer. Briana chose Virginia Western Community College after connecting with Dr. David Barry, who would become her favorite professor and is the head of the college’s Mechatronics Systems Engineering Technology (MSET) program. “After telling him my interest and what I wanted to do as a career, he told me that I’d be perfect for the design engineering program,” Briana said. “I love automotive, and I want to work in motorsport engineering post-graduation.” 

Briana shared what her classes look like and how she loves the hands-on experience. “Something that’s great about the design mechatronics program is how much of it is hands-on. It’s a little bit different from a traditional engineering program,” she said.

“There are a lot of chemistry and physics classes that have projects where you need to come into the fabrication lab. The instructors are great, and the hands-on experience you get from these labs is superb.”

After graduating from Virginia Western, Briana plans on transferring to Old Dominion University to study mechanical engineering technology.

As far as where she wants to work after obtaining her degree, she’s shooting for the stars. “Anything motorsport, like post-automotive engineering or motorsport engineering. Maybe even working for a company like BMW or the Nismo racing team.”

Thanks to G3 tuition assistance, Briana was able to focus on her studies. “It’s made going to college possible and affordable,” she said. “Now I can actually see myself finishing my degree in a timely manner.”

Briana also has great advice for her fellow students. “It seems that there’s still a lot of folks that aren’t aware of different types of funding mechanisms within the Virginia Community College System,” Briana said. “I would tell other students to go and speak with their financial advisors or with advisors of whatever program they want to enter. I had no clue about the options that I had. But after speaking with my advisors, I realized that they care about the students, and that they want you to succeed. They’re there, you just have to go talk to someone.”