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Clarkson University Engineering Student Starts Stage Rally Racing Co-Piloting Business

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Meet Angela J. Cosner, a 21-year-old senior at Clarkson University from Springville, Pa., who spent her last undergraduate summer as a co-driver in stage rally car racing.

Angela J. CosnerIn the sport, contenders race on inconsistent terrain for up to a thousand miles. The difficulty of driving off road at high speeds requires drivers to operate in a two-person team -- a driver and a co-driver. The driver completes the stage as quickly as possible, while relying on the co-driver to make critical, calculated decisions.

Cosner’s job as co-driver includes determining a feasible speed, and telling the driver what lies ahead, and how to adjust to changing road conditions.

“All the driver has to do is drive. I take care of everything else,” says Cosner, a mechanical engineering major.

Many students choose to work on co-ops for Fortune 500 companies during the summers prior to their junior or senior year. Cosner instead decided to form a sole proprietorship, Cosner Co-Piloting, with a goal of institutionalizing the service of co-driving as a profession.

Cosner says that Clarkson was very supportive and helpful in helping her to found her company. “I first met with the Marketing and External Relations office, and then with our Shipley Center for Innovation,” she says.

Matt Draper, deputy director of the Shipley Center, worked with Cosner to help her form her business.

“During each step of the way, we worked with Angela to first understand the process, steps, and actions, before creating and then adding each piece to the overall business plan,” says Draper.

He says that he is proud of Angela’s success, and the skills she has developed. Draper also points out the benefits of combining both engineering and business skills. “Those who can take specific details from many disciplines and see the bigger picture are the game changers,” he says.

“Without the University’s help, I would not be where I am right now,” says Cosner. “Since working with Matt, I have learned so much about the business world.”

Draper says that today’s economy requires innovative entrepreneurs who can bridge the gap between technical and marketing skills. “Innovation drives modern, globalized, knowledge-based economies,” he says. The mission of the Shipley Center is to accelerate the commercialization of discovery-driven Clarkson innovations into the marketplace.

Since 2010, Draper has worked with numerous students to promote their businesses. By combining the technical skills students learn at Clarkson University and the basic “know how” to be a successful entrepreneur, these student-run businesses have been successful.

Clarkson University and its Shipley Center both sponsored Cosner’s business this summer.

For her part, Cosner believes that the skills she has learned at Clarkson, and the Clarkson experience as a whole, have allowed her to succeed in the mentally and physically strenuous field of stage rally racing.

 “The troubleshooting skills I have learned at Clarkson have helped me as a co-driver,” she says. “With my engineering mindset, I am able to search my environment for all possible resources.”

“I am very passionate about my business,” says Cosner, whose future plans include “hiring and training additional co-drivers who will represent my business well.” 

Throughout the summer, Cosner participated in many races and won several awards, finishing second in group two at the Mexico Regional Rally, as one of the top vehicles in the two-wheel-drive class at the Black River Stages in Harrisville, N.Y., and second overall in the Helmer by Day regional at Pacific Forest Rally in Merritt, B.C.

She has competed in 17 events since beginning in August 2010 and most recently shared a podium with the most successful North American driver in international stage rally, John Buffum, and with her mentor, "Crazy Leo" Urlichich, who is one of the top drivers in the Canadian Rally Championship.

“Currently, I am working on gathering enough funding to compete on the 2012 World Rally Championship Academy (WRCA),” says Cosner.

The WRCA is a smaller version of the World Rally Championship (WRC) that only competes in six of the total WRC events and is a sort of rally school for successful teams. In order to take part, the driver must be 24 years of age or younger.

“If the team I am currently working with gathers enough money, we would be the only all-American team to take part in the program and most likely in those events next season,” says Cosner.

Those interested in following Cosner’s success as a rally co-driver can visit her website at

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo Caption: Stage rally racing co-driver Angela Cosner at the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally in Wellsboro, Pa. (photo by Jeremy Waechter).

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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