For the past four years, a small team of mechanical engineering students from CU Boulder has participated in the SAE Baja design challenge. The goal of this challenge is to apply technical engineering skills to a hands-on project by designing and building an off-road racing vehicle. In May of 2020, our team will be traveling to Kentucky to compete against some of the top engineering students from around the world.
SAE Baja is an intercollegiate design competition run by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Teams of students from universities all over the world design and build small off-road racing vehicles and then compete against eachother at annual conferences. The cars all have engines of the same specifications to ensure that their success is not dependent on engine tuning but rather overall design. By simulating real-world design scenarios, students learn the necessary skills that will help them become successful engineers and successful professionals.
The competiton is meant to challenge students to design a vehicle capable of handling extremely harsh driving conditions. There are multiple dynamic events including a hill climb, maneuverability test, and suspension test as well as a single four-hour endurance race that pushes the vehicle to its limit. Teams are also assessed in static events such as ergonomics, functionality, cost, and manufacturability of their designs in a business and marketing presentation. This means that the final placement of the team does not rest solely on the vehicle's performance but rather on a variety of engineering principles. All of our work must be well documented and compiled in reports that support the functionality of our vehicle to the judges.