Engineering Now .: Volume 4 - Edition 8 .: May and June 2008

Baja SAE team unveil new car in time for competition in Quebec

The Baja SAE team poses with the latest incarnation of their car in the Thompson Engineering Building lobby.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

This past week, June 11-14, Western Engineering's Baja SAE team competed in the 2008 Midwest Baja SAE competition in Orford, Quebec. The competition was hosted by ETS and consisted of 122 teams. Team Manager Lucas Walker explains in his own words how things went at the competition:

"The competition began with a sense of urgency as some finishing touches needed to be done on the car before we could attempt to pass technical inspection. We made our first attempt at tech on day 2 but some small issues were discovered. With some quick work we had fixed these problems and were through tech by that afternoon. We then had to pass our brake test. Despite some initial brake problems that had been plaguing the car we passed the brake test within 3 attempts.

Having passed all of the technical inspection requirements we were free to compete in the dynamic events. We completed two runs in every dynamic event which included acceleration, log pull, maneuverability, suspension and traction, and finally the endurance race. We were also judged on the cost and design of our vehicle.

However, during our endurance race disaster struck. Only four laps (40 minutes) into the race our left drive shaft pulled out of the CV joint during a jump, the driver did not notice any change in performance and was unaware of the failure. This lead to the drive shaft catching on the ground and swinging around to cut our rear a-arm suspension member into two pieces. The failure, while fixable was not the ultimate downfall. We had to plead with track officials to tow us back to the pits as our car had broken down at the opposite end of a 2.4 mile track.

During the tow back to the pits the bearings had fallen out of our CV joint, and with not enough time to fix the a-arm and find new bearings we were forced to pack the car away for the remainder of the competition. Luckily this was the last event of the competition however it was also worth the most points. That being said our results were respectable up until that point.

Design - 85th
Cost - 66th
Acceleration - 56th
Log Pull - 55th
Maneuverability - 67th
Suspension & Traction - 79th
Endurance - 90th
Overall - 86th

With a better finish in the endurance race we would have placed much higher overall. Despite a lower ranking finish we feel that the competition was not a disappointment. The failures that occurred on the car did not leave us scratching our heads. We were able to determine the cause of the failure and we have already discovered alternate solutions to prevent the same problem in the future.

This competition was a very good learning experience for a team that is very young and has many good years ahead of it. We have already begun design work for next year and research has begun to strengthen the performance of the car. We look forward to competing again next year with the knowledge and experience that has been gained from competing in Montreal. We would also like to thank all the support we have had from faculty, staff, and our generous sponsors; without these people we would have never made it to the competition."

Congratulations go out to the Baja SAE team for a job well done!


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.: Becky Blue
Spencer Engineering Building, Room 2074
Telephone: (519) 850-2917 Fax: (519) 661-3808