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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA Baja team sets personal record at Wisconsin event

Isaac Cox/Arizona Summer Wildcat The UA Baja Team, made up of students within the aerospace and mechanical engineering department, has built its vehicle from the ground up since it began in 2006. The team recently set a personal record by placing 12th out of 117 teams at a competition in Wisconsin.

After placing 12th in the Baja SAE (Society of Auto Engineers) Wisconsin competition last month, the UA Baja Racing team will get a head start this summer on gathering more sponsors for next year’s competition in Washington.

The UA Baja Racing team was established as a club in 2006. Since then, the club has grown and progressively improved in competitions.

The competition, which involves not only competing in racing and endurance events with an all-terrain vehicle but also building the vehicle from the ground up, is meant to provide engineering students with a hands-on experience. The competition requires these vehicles to participate in arduous events, such as the pulling event, where cars have to pull a certain weight from their back end.

“They set up this program to get young engineers the experience that everybody needs,” said Sean Hays, the team’s president and a civil engineering senior. “The idea is SAE is a fictional firm and they’re looking to buy a new prototype off-road vehicle for mass production. It’s supposed to be marketed to your average off-road enthusiast.”

The competition rates each car for a total of 1000 points. It is broken down into three sections: overall dynamic, overall static and the endurance race. Overall dynamic is worth a total of 300 points. It challenges the car’s acceleration, land maneuverability, mud bogging ability, pulling endurance, suspension and traction, each for 60 points. Overall Static is worth 300 points and questions the students on the cost of parts used to build the car for 100 points and the designing of the car for 200 points.

The endurance race is worth 400 points and lasts four hours. The objective is to do as many laps around the course as possible. During the race, repairs can be made if anything breaks and contestants are allowed to switch drivers.

Out of 117 teams from around the world in the recent competition, they did away with their record from last year, 21 out of 100. Despite the team’s success, members still recognize the challenges of competing with the club.

“There are a lot of clubs and organizations on campus, but not all of them actually build something,” said Matt Ware, a team member and electrical and computer engineering sophomore.

The team runs tests year-round and tries its best to simulate the environment they would face in a competition.

Two years ago, Abrams Airborne Manufacturing, Inc., one of the team’s sponsors, let them build their own off-road track in a property behind the manufacturing house.

The team’s members are responsible for finding their own sponsors and money, while still building the best car. The cost for admission is $1,000, and after calculating the cost of parts and manufacturing along with other expenses, the sum is around $12,000.

But for some team members, the hard work pays off in the end.
“You’re getting experience that not a lot of students get to have,” said Shanna Tune, a junior in mechanical engineering and mathematics. “I’ve walked away with some of my closest friends.”

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