At its core, Baja SAE is a collegiate design competition where engineering students are tasked with building a single-seat off-road race car capable of competing in a number of challenges designed to break your car in more ways than you thought possible. Baja SAE is one of the reasons I chose to attend Olivet Nazarene University and have been a proud member of a phenomenal team since I started here back in 2014.
My freshman year I was in charge of designing and maintaining the brake system. This involved sourcing what was needed to patch together what parts we already had and making sure that the car would stop reliably whenever someone found a tree magically appear in their way. In addition to my duties as the head of brakes, I was also involved in fabricating and replacing a number of parts for the car ranging from suspension components, tubes for the frame, to a repositioned exhaust.
Last year I was named Head of Design. Sadly, I had to step down halfway through the year for personal reasons. I used my time off to focus on what was most important to me at that time and to get some things sorted it. While I missed being involved with Baja, it was time well spent.
Now, I'm once again involved with Baja and have the honor of being the Head of Design again. This year, Jordan (captain of our team) told me that we were going to redesign the rear section of the car and, in effect, shrink wrap the tubing around the engine to save some weight and improve suspension travel. The new rear cage only needs some small tweaks to be ready to for stress simulations. Once the simulations are complete, the rear cage ca be fabricated and installed. A full post on the rear cage and design process will be coming soon. Once the rear cage is finished, I will move my attention to updating the rear suspension. Once the suspension is complete, I will run stress simulations on other critical components in the car to identify any weak points in the design.
Baja has been, by far, the most useful use of my time as a student. Not only have I learned skills that cannot be taught in a class but the way I approach challenges and look at engineering projects has changed. I am able to see things through a manufacturing lens in addition to just a design lens. I'm also able to prioritize design requirements and design a system to be robust and efficient. Baja has allowed me to pursue a degree that I understand how it is used instead of the theory of how it can be used.