UNM School of Engineering Mourns Tragic Loss of Mechanical Engineering Alumnus

January 5, 2012

1-5-12 – The University of New Mexico School of Engineering mourns the tragic loss of David Reis, who graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2008. David and his sister Karen were killed near San Diego, CA on January 1, 2012. David was a Navy pilot who had recently taken his first flight aboard an F-18 fighter jet. The School of Engineering offers its heartfelt condolences to the Reis family for their loss.

(This 2011 photo provided by the Reis family shows Karen Reis and her brother David Reis at his winging ceremony for the Navy.)

In 2007 and 2008, David participated in the three-semester LOBOMotorSports program where students design and build a formula-style race car, then race in the Formula SAE®, an international competition encompassing all aspects of the automotive industry. David worked on the design for the brakes and helped with the design for the engine. He also did most of the test driving on the vehicles before competition.

(David in the driver’s seat of the 2008 UNM FSAE car.)

Professor of Mechanical Engineering John Russell, who heads the Formula SAE® program, said, “This is such tragic news for the School of Engineering, the Mechanical Engineering Department, and especially for the FSAE team. David loved the thrill of driving and pushing the FSAE cars to their limits. It’s easy to see how this laid the groundwork for him flying F-18's in the Navy. David was the ultimate team player."

Michael P. Hullihan was on the FSAE team with David. Now an engineer for Honda R&D Americas, Inc., Michael was very close to David and remembers him as being the best driver on the team as well as his many other contributions.  “David was part of the ‘elite 8’ who stayed when something had to be done, worked just about every weekend, ate at Wendy's way too much, and just devoted himself fully to making a great car.”

He continues, “The truly remarkable thing is that he did all that on top of Navy ROTC, an internship at Sandia, and just always being a guy everyone loved to be around. In short, if not for his contribution to the 2008 car, I seriously doubt we would have made it to the competition, much less place so well (24th overall) with one of UNM's smallest ever teams. I hope that through this he can be remembered well by those who may not have heard about the tragedy of this past weekend.”

Read more about the team’s recollections of David.

Visit the LoboMotorSports website: http://fsae.unm.edu/home.php

The 2008 FSAE Team Remembers David Reis

FSAE Team with David Reis standing on the far left.

Below: David working in the FSAE shop.

Michael P. Hullihan, Engineer
Vehicle Performance-Steering Dynamics, Honda R&D Americas, Inc.

"On paper David was solely responsible for the brake system (which past tech on the first try) and one of our top drivers, in fact usually our best driver. He set our fastest lap at competition for the autocross, and was never able to drive endurance because Tyler Brown had the first stint in which it broke. Since David was our best driver, he led up the driver training including logistics as well as tracking performance of everyone to finally determine who would run which event at the compeition.

During the testing portion of development, he and Truc Do tirelessly worked through FI mapping problems after the ECU randomly lost the data Truc had spent a long time writing. Outside of this, he helped me continuously tune the suspension to a setting that gave the driver confidence to flirt with the limit and sometimes use the throttle to help yaw the car. Our final setup had very progressive over steer past the limit thanks in no small part to David's help.

During the build cycle, just as in testing, he lent a hand where it was needed whenever he could. He was one of the 4 of us who could weld well. After I had finished the frame and chassis design he was very patient with my OCD and never gave up as we spent the better part of 2 days making sure the jig and attachment points were absolutely perfect before welding. He and I pulled more than a few all nighters to get the chassis welded and to powdercoat on time, or get the front suspension ready for the steering housing Wes had done the next day. He was part of the 'elite 8' who stayed when something had to be done, worked just about every weekend, ate at Wendy's WAY too much, and just devoted himself fully to making a great car.

The truly remarkable thing is that he did all that on top of Navy ROTC, an internship at Sandia, and just always being a guy everyone loved to be around. In short, if not for his contribution to the 2008 car I seriously doubt we would have made it comp, much less place so well (24th overall) with one of UNM's smallest ever teams.

David was one of the closest people to me in my life until the day he passed. I hope that through this he can be remembered well by those who may not have heard about the tragedy of this past weekend."