TTU Students in 2002 Mini Baja

Expecting a bumpy ride but a quality performance, Tennessee Tech will be competing in the 2002 Society of Automotive Engineers' Mini Baja East competition on May 9-11 in Morgantown, W.V. West Virginia University will host 53 engineering teams from colleges across the United States, Mexico and Canada during the three-day event sponsored by SAE International.

Tennessee Tech will compete with its student designed and built off-road vehicles in both static and dynamic events. The first day of competition includes judging for cost, sales presentation, engineering design and safety. Day two requires the team to compete in land and water maneuverability, acceleration and power pull. The final day includes the grueling four-hour endurance race where Tennessee Tech will be scored on the number of laps it completes in that time period. Rocks, trees and bumps are just a few terrain characteristics that drivers can expect to find in the endurance race.

Mini Baja is a design competition that challenges engineering students to work as a team in the designing, building and testing of an off-road vehicle that is capable of negotiating rough terrain. For more than 25 years, Briggs and Stratton Corp. has generously donated 10 horsepower engines to all teams competing in the competitions.

Engineering students at Tennessee Tech have been designing and building their Mini Baja vehicle for two semesters. After last year’s victory, several changes were made to the drive train to minimize unsprung weight and much emphasis has been put on ergonomics. 

"I feel that this year’s car will be faster than ever, considering the car is at least 50 pounds lighter than last year’s car, and the drive train has been improved to minimize power losses," said team captain Florin Marcu.

Competing in Mini Baja requires more than building the car. To raise money for the project, teams solicit corporate sponsorship in cash or parts. Every year a significant amount of time has to be allocated to finding sponsors. Corporate sponsors for Tennessee Tech Mini Baja team include Sverdrup, Society of Military Engineers, Carrera Shocks, Douglas Wheel and Hellermann-Tyton.

In addition to team sponsors, SAE International promotes corporate sponsorship at the national level. Briggs and Stratton, Honda R&D Americas, Mechanical Dynamics and Polaris Industries support the engineering education program by contributing funds and sponsoring awards. 

For more information about the Mini Baja competition, visit the following websites: orgs.tntech.edu/baja, www.mae.usu.edu/minibajaevent/ or www.sae.org/students/student.htm.