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03-18-2003

Mini Baja Team Prepares For Competition

[A photograph is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/minibaja2003.jpg.]

Clarkson University’s Mini Baja Team will be one of more than 40 teams competing in the 17th annual SAE Mini Baja East Competition, April 4-6 in Orlando, Fla.

In four of the last five competitions, the Clarkson team has finished in the top five.A member of the Clarkson University Mini-Baja team

“We are looking forward to another strong showing at this year’s competition,” said senior Aaron Lyndaker, a mechanical engineering major and team co-leader. “We have about 50 students participating with a dedicated core of about 15 people. We are still fine-tuning the car but we are right on schedule and have taken it for a few successful test runs.”

Sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the Mini Baja intercollegiate competition challenges students to produce a prototype of an all-terrain, amphibious vehicle intended for sale to off-road enthusiasts. The car must be safe, easy to maintain and easily transported. Student designers must adhere to strict engineering design rules and cost restrictions that are established each year.

“The main focus of the design this year was to integrate a torsion differential into the drivetrain while maintaining or lessening the weight of the car,” explained Lyndaker. “The suspension geometry has been improved and lightened since this car is not designed for four-wheel steering. The steering geometry has also been reengineered to accommodate two-wheel actuation while decreasing the turning radius to approximately three feet.”

During the three-day competition, the vehicles will maneuver over rough terrain and through thick mud, splash through deep water, and climb steep hills as they are tested for acceleration, handling, maneuverability, endurance and water mobility. Teams will also be evaluated on written and oral presentations by a panel of judges that includes engineering and vehicle development experts from the automotive and off-highway vehicle industry. In addition, students must create and submit detailed safety drawings and design and cost reports for review prior to the competition.

The team will also participate in the Mini-Baja West Competition in June in Troy, Ohio.

Clarkson University's SPEED (Students Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) program promotes multidisciplinary project-based learning opportunities for more than 250 undergraduates annually. SPEED projects involve engineering design and analysis, fabrication, and the enhancement of professional competencies such as budget management, effective teamwork and communication skills. SPEED receives its primary financial support from Alcoa, Corning, Eastman Kodak, the General Electric Fund and Procter & Gamble. SPEED was recognized with the 2001 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award and the 2002 Corporate and Foundation Alliance Award for its exceptional contributions to improving undergraduate engineering education.

PHOTO CAPTION: A member of the Clarkson University Mini-Baja team takes the vehicle out for a test drive. The student team is designing and building an all-terrain, amphibious vehicle that will take part in an intercollegiate engineering design competition in April.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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