TTU Mini Baja team featured on Wheaties boxesMany champions dream of having their photos on a Wheaties box, but few ever get to see their images on the "Breakfast of Champions" cereal boxes like the Tennessee Tech University Mini Baja team recently did.
Usually reserved for the likes of Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Cal Ripken Jr., the honor was given to the team through the efforts of TTU alumnus Randy Darcy, executive vice president of General Mills; Dale Wilson, faculty adviser; and Randy Van Deven, TTU director of development/major gifts. Wilson and Van Deven regularly visit Darcy, a 1973 mechanical engineering graduate, at the General Mills' Minneapolis facility.
"General Mills' assistance has helped keep our program in the winner's circle as our students have more time to concentrate on the design and performance of the car, rather than spending half their time trying to raise funds to keep the program in the black," said Wilson.
The boxes, which were printed in a limited edition not for resale, illustrate just how supportive General Mills has become to the team, which won the Dayton Cup, the national Mini Baja award for the year's best team, in 2002 and 2003.
Darcy was impressed with the viability and adaptability the Mini Baja program has brought to the engineering learning experience at TTU over the past 25 years and was interested in helping the university maintain its status as the "team to beat." After hearing about the Mini Baja team concept where students design, build, and race an off-road vehicle that encompasses an assortment of disciplines on campus, Darcy was willing to provide some much needed financial support for the program.
"This notoriety comes well deserved for our university and a team that boasts 11 first place finishes, the most first place trophies by any school," said Van Deven.
With institutions participating from as far away as Australia, Canada, South America, and the Far East, intense competition accompanies these races. Each competition has from 70 to 140 college teams vying for the top spot.
"TTU has fared well against the likes of Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Auburn, University De Sherbrooke (Canada) and other reputable schools as our students are determined to maintain their championship status," said Van Deven. "Tennessee Tech University is proud to be associated with General Mills and the Breakfast of Champions."
TTU's Department of Mechanical Engineering invites anyone who is interested in learning more about Mini Baja or about becoming a sponsor to contact Wilson at 372-3254.