Baja SAE gives TTU student tools to succeed

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Mechanical engineering students at Tennessee Tech University put their classroom experience to the ultimate test when they come together to design, build and test their Baja SAE car. The real-world knowledge that they gain gives them the skills employers are looking for and the talents to land a good job in today’s competitive work environment.

TTU senior Wesley Lentz is a prime example of what can happen when knowledge and passion come together. He spent most of a recent series of interviews with Honda personnel talking about his years on the TTU Baja SAE team.

“With Baja, I have had the chance to design, fabricate and test parts with my own hands in a low-risk environment that is just as competitive as the real world world,” the Columbia, Tenn., native said. “I can more thoroughly understand the individual roles in those processes, more effectively perform those roles and work with others.”

“I believe Honda saw this in me,” he said.

Lentz first met officials from Honda at an engineering career fair at Tennessee Tech. Honda is a bronze sponsor of the university’s annual engineering fair and regularly recruits TTU students.

After a telephone interview and another conversation at Honda’s Lincoln, Ala., plant, Lentz was offered a job in the company’s engineering program. When he graduates this spring, the mechanical engineering major will transition into the professional world in a job with one of Baja SAE’s corporate sponsors.

Lentz will work in different engineering departments at the plant, where Honda manufactures and assembles the Pilot, Ridgeline and Odyssey models. Once he has spent time working in each of them, he will select the department that will start him on his career.

Each member of TTU’s Baja team, which is open to students of all ages and majors, begins as a machinist. From there, they move up to eventually designing systems for the car. For this year’s model, Lentz worked on the car’s suspension subsystems, which included an overhaul of the rear suspension’s kinematic geometry and new packaging, manufacturing and fabrication of the entire assembly.

The TTU team has more wins than any other team in the country, and the university was selected to host this spring’s Southern Regional competition.

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