The summer they spent riding motorcycles

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Never a dull day with NIU-CEET mechanical engineering students Josh Ott and Adam Bennett.  Even a casual conversation with the pair leaves you experiencing ridiculous jealousness and a lack of awesomeness. 

Not your average summer vacation to say the least.

What did you guys do this summer?

Josh: We worked at Erik Buell Racing which is a company started by Eric Buell. He is a famous racer, inventor and connoisseur of all things motorcycle. He started a company after Harley Davidson ended their relationship with the Buell Motorcycle Company which was a collaboration between Davidson and Buell for quite a few years.  So Buell started his own company so that he could design and build motorcycles without Davidson overseeing every aspect which has held back the Buell motorcycles in the past.

(Deep breath) We spent the summer there doing design work for bikes that were going to be used in the United States as well as bikes sold overseas by our partner company Motorcorp.

Adam: I like how you just go into press release mode.  

Josh: (laughs) So we spent the summer designing motorcycles and hanging out with our AMA race team that does really well.

Did you guys participate in the raceteam?

Josh: Yeah! I took the bodywork off one the bikes one time.

Adam: Yeah I got to push around some engines and things like that.

Josh: There’s the race shop and the manufacturing building right outside of our office doors.  

Whoa.  Cool!

Josh: Yeah so at any time you can go out there and see any bike being built or tested.

Adam: We could sit in on a meeting about: (listing off)
             1) what needs to be done  
             2) go do the design work  
             3) 3D print the part
             4) actually put it on the bike
             5) build the prototype bike, 
             6) test it 

             so it was pretty cool.  

Josh:  I started my summer with a concept sketch pinned to my cubicle wall and designed parts off of it so that it would look like the sketch.  I then 3D printed the parts, test fit them on motorcycles and it went through review meetings by our people and even all the way down to picking out what fasteners would hold the parts together.

And it all started from a sketch stuck to your cubicle wall.

Josh:Yep just from my cubicle wall.

Dang.  Started from the bottom, now you here.

Josh: Yep, it was just so cool that they treated us like actual engineers.

Adam:10{90a1bf73e079e3420ea925661e7e444ee51451be2d582d3d42983c961bfd819e} of the whole company was made up by interns this summer.

How awesome.  How’d you guys get this internship?

Josh: Adam got it.

Adam:Well…its kind of a long story. For Spring break this year we went down to Florida.

Josh:NIU Motor went to Florida. (in his best advertisement voice)

Adam: YEAH! The campus motorcycle club went to Florida! We went down to Daytona Beach for ‘Bike Week’, a huge deal for AMA.  We started wandering down in the race-pitt area, which your not even supposed to do.  We saw the Buell Racing Company down there and I really wanted to talk to them.

The company is the only American manufacturer of sport bikes.

Josh kept telling me to go talk to them and I finally got the nerve up to talk to the race team and said “Hey I’m an engineering student at NIU, I love what you guys are doing” and they ended up showing me around their garage and told me to “Go apply online if you really want to work with us”.

We got back from spring break and I wrote a letter about why I wanted to work with them and they called me back for an interview.

During the interview they asked me if I knew anyone else interested, so no doubt in my mind I gave them Josh’s contact information

Josh:I got an interview and the job too!

So…who got who the interview is the real question??

Adam: Teamwork!


Josh:Engineers helping engineers

I sat like 20 feet from the guy who own the company…Eric Buell. Also, a really cool culture!  Everybody there rides, loves motorcycles, spends all day talking about motorcycles…

Then you go home and dream about motorcycles…

Adam: Yep.  Pretty much 24/7

Josh: Yes!  Such a great experience learned so much about motorcycles and met so many awesome people there. 

We get to build motorcycles people have never seen before that may not even make it out into the real world, build it, review and sometimes even ride it.

Adam:Everyone at Buell lives and breaths motorcycles, its so awesome.

Josh:From this internship I met one of the coolest and fastest drivers on this plant, Cory West.  I could text him right now “Hey man what’s up, how fast are you today?”

Adam:Such a cool internship.  We want to do this for the rest of our lives.

Moral of the story is to put your self out there.  A simple shard of courage and a great conversation could change your life. 

Next stop for the guys, Senior Design Projects! Stay tuned to see what they end up designing! 

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