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TTU News


thumb Baja-fingergunsThe cows and fence lines have been moved, underbrush has been cleared from the woods, and mounds of dirt and other obstacles have been piled up and packed down. The farm is quiet now, but it won’t be for long.

The Shipley Farm and Hyder-Burks Agricultural Pavilion at Tennessee Tech University are ready for the invasion of 100 teams of student engineers from around the world. Each team is gearing to win as many trophies as possible in the 2013 Baja SAE Collegiate Design Competition.

“I think the Cookeville community will enjoy seeing what these students can do to design a single seat off-road vehicle,” said Dale Wilson, mechanical engineering professor and team adviser. “The competition is always fun to see.”

The competition pits teams of engineers against each other to find out which group can design the best car. Competitions include team presentations about their design and construction; events in suspension and traction, land maneuverability and a sled pull; and a culminating four-hour endurance race.

“You have to be a designer, you have to be a manager, you have to be a machinist,” said team co-captain Kendall Hall, a junior mechanical engineering major from Frankin, Tenn. “You have to make so many choices and it’s all up to you.”

“It’s so much more open-ended than anything you get in class,” he said. “In business, there are so many questions and no real set way to solve a problem, so this is a lot more realistic.”

The TTU Baja SAE team has been working all year on their design. As the host campus for the event, the team has a reputation to uphold. Since its founding in 1977, the team has finished in the top 10 in more than 80 percent of the competitions, making it the most decorated team in the U.S. It has more wins than any other team in the country by a factor of two, according to Hall.

“Obviously we want to do well,” Hall said. “All of our alumni will be there and we get a chance to show of our program and what we can do.”

The TTU Golden Eagle Baja team will be competing against universities from as far afield as South Korea, India and the United Arab Emirates. Fellow Tennessee teams from the Martin, Chattanooga and Knoxville campuses of The University of Tennessee, Christian Brothers University, Lipscomb University and Middle Tennessee State University will also be part of the competition.

The four-day event will begin Thursday, April 18. The teams will give presentations about their designs and have an opportunity to network with engineering companies Friday, April 19. Acceleration, sled pull, land maneuverability and suspension and traction events will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20. Sunday’s endurance race will begin at 9 a.m.

All events, except the networking fair, are free and open to the public. For more information about the competition, visit All spectators will be asked to sign a waiver upon entering the farm.

The TTU Baja team is supported by DENSO Manufacturing and Cummins, as well as Quality Metal Treatment, Mid-South Industrial Automation and Fast Signs in Cookeville.