Engineers in Action: Cody McKinney
April 17, 2013 — “If you have a goal and it means something to you, you’re not going to fail. Don’t be afraid of the work… If there’s a will, there’s a way. Set your parameters and get there.” - Cody McKinney
In memory of Mr. Rick Ward – Mentor, Racing Partner, Polaris Race Coordinator - Sugar City, ID, and Friend… Always willing to help and always treating racers the way that he would want to be treated. Racing bib #7X, Retired by RMSHA
Originally from Pinedale, WY, Cody McKinney began racing snowmobiles semi-professionally at age 14; by age 17, he was racing professionally. He would go on to receive sponsorships from companies such as KLiM, Bucky’s Outdoors, McKinney Construction, Starting Line Products, EZ Ryde, Great Lakes Sound and Vibration, and Polaris.
In the fall of 2004, Cody entered a career program offered at Bridgerland Applied Technology College located in Logan, UT. During this time he earned a certificate in Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD). Upon completion of the program, Cody returned to Pinedale, building custom homes during the summer with McKinney Construction, the family business, while racing professionally during the winter.
As a sponsor, Polaris provided Cody with the latest machines (snowmobiles) periodically throughout the season. This allowed him to actively participate in Polaris’s research and development efforts.
Cody raced both in the Stock and Mod Classes for the 600, 700, and 800. In the Mod Class all components for the sleds he raced were constructed from scratch. He has always approached the manufacturing of the machine from the rider’s perspective, directly resulting in an advantage against the competition.
While on the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association (RMSHA) racing circuit, Cody met Rick Ward. Rick was immediately impressed with Cody’s natural ability to design user-friendly sled components. He emphasized to Cody that he would have the rest of his life to race, inspiring Cody to further his education by enrolling at Boise State University in pursuit of a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, requiring him to put racing aside.
After a semester at Boise State, Cody transferred to the University of Wyoming. The College of Engineering and Applied Science provided him with the smaller class sizes that he sought after, coupled with personable faculty members. Now a senior, Cody will graduate this spring with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. His advisor is Dr. David Walrath.
Currently, Cody works in the College’s Workshop as a technician under the supervision of Dr. Rob Erikson. This has provided him the opportunity to work on various machining projects, including the use of the 3-D printer recently acquired by the college.
This past November, Cody was a member of the UW team placing 3rd in the ASME Student Design Challenge in Houston, TX. The team had placed 1st in the district competition that had taken place in Baton Rouge, LA.
Teams to take 1st and 2nd came from France’s, Institut Superieur de L’Aeronautique et de l’Espace, and Cal Poly. Other schools participating included: The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; Khalifa University of Science (UAE); and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Each team was challenged with the task of designing four self-propelled devices that could collectively complete a relay race in the shortest period of time. Each device was required to contain an on-board energy source while also triggering the motion of the subsequent device. The devices competed on a pre-designed course. Bonuses were awarded for devices having different energy sources and for initiating subsequent devices.
In May, Cody will head to Washington State to compete in the SAE Baja Competition. Under the project advising of Dr. Rob Erikson, the team of ten UW students will compete against approximately 100 teams, tasked with the challenge of engineering the most efficient baja race car. The team consists of three student leaders and one overall leader; Cody will serve as the team leader for suspension.
Cody will continue racing professionally this upcoming winter. With the constant need to keep his hands dirty while innovating products, his long-term goal is to engineer high-performance, lightweight parts for the racing community.