Alumnus returns to UC as professor and Bearcat Motorsports mentor

Mains poses in office

UC associate professor of practice Mike Mains returns to UC after 25 years in industry. Mains graduated from UC with a bachelor's and master's degree in mechanical engineering. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

After nearly 25 years in industry, Mike Mains, M.S., returns to the University of Cincinnati as an associate professor of practice. Mains, who holds a bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering from UC, is excited to bring his experience in industry to academia.

He will teach courses in statics and dynamics and automotive design, as well as mentor UC’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) organization, Bearcat Motorsports.

“In Formula, we try to teach students more than building a racecar,” Mains said. “It’s teamwork, professional development and leadership skills, and with 25 years of industry, you can bring that kind of experience to the table.”

Mains is committed to academic excellence, developing students professionally and encouraging innovation. Bearcat Motorsports is a place where theory and practice collide, a perfect backdrop for UC’s strategic direction, Next Lives Here

mains talks about a car part in office

UC professor Mike Mains explains one of the essential designs of a Formula SAE racecar. In addition to teaching courses, Mains mentors UC's Formula SAE team, Bearcat Motorsports. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

Mains started at UC as a mechanical engineering student with a love for motorsports and mechanics. Through several cooperative education (co-op) rotations, that passion evolved into an interest in computer-aided engineering and software design and testing. 

“After co-op, I realized how it all connected,” Mains said. “I understood how these classes relate to the industry. It was a discovery process that wouldn’t have happened had I not been here at the university.” 

Mains and Allemang pose

UC professor Mike Mains poses with his former graduate advisor, UC professor Randy Allemang. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

One of Mains’ professors at the time, Randy Allemang, Ph.D., steered Mains toward graduate school. As a graduate student, Mains worked in UC’s structural dynamics research laboratory, an experience that eventually propelled him into a career as a software developer with Danish engineering and electronics company Brüel & Kjær.

Mains and Allemang stayed in touch, and thirty years later Mains would take over Bearcat Motorsports from Allemang. 

“I think you would find thousands of students that he’s impacted in a positive way over the years,” said Mains of his former professor. “And many people would say that he was one of their favorite professors coming through this program.” 

The culture of Formula SAE and the culture of the college and the co-op program really play back and forth.

Mike Mains, UC associate professor of practice, Bearcat Motorsports mentor

Mains oversees construction on racecar

UC Bearcat Motorsports mentor Mike Mains inspects this year's Formula SAE car. The team hopes to compete in international competition in May. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

Now Mains gets to teach what he loves in the place where it all started. Mains hopes that students take his classes and join Bearcat Motorsports not just because of their interest in automotive work but also because the professional opportunities.

Mains points to his composite picture

Mike Mains points to his composite photo in Rhodes Hall. Mains graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1990. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

“The culture of Formula SAE and the culture of the college and the co-op program really play back and forth,” said Mains. “[Bearcat Motorsports] gives you a leg up. You start hearing the jargon and understanding the materials and practical applications, even before you take statics or dynamics classes.”

As Mains transitions from industry to academia, he knows challenges await, but he’s excited to build on the “entrepreneurial spirit embodied in the university,” he said, a spirit embedded in so many Boldly Bearcats.

“It’s really cool to be back here and to feel like I’m back home. I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

Featured image at top: UC professor and Bearcat Motorsports mentor Mike Mains oversees work on this year's racecar. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

Next Lives Here

UC is committed to a highly innovative academic and professional development experience for all its students. Learn how academic excellence is one of the key platforms of UC's strategic direction, Next Lives Here

Revving Up for Competition

Each year, the UC Formula SAE team designs, builds and tests a racecar for international competition. Learn about what Bearcat Motorsports has been up to by reading this recent article on the team's work