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Jan. 31, 2013

Engineers assemble racing ambition

By Robert Bray

Members of Society for Automotive Engineers chapter at Cleveland State are building a Baja vehicle to compete with teams from other universities around the U.S. at the Collegiate Design Series to be held in summer 2013.

The Collegiate Design Series, known more commonly as the Mini Baja Competition, will take place June 6-9 in Rochester, N.Y. One thousand dollars will go to the winner with $750 for second place and $500 for third place.

Members of SAE discuss the suspention on a previously built baja vehicle.

In the four-hour endurance race, the Baja vehicles will be judged for acceleration, maneuverability, a hill climb, suspension and traction.

“Theoretically, we are a company that is producing a prototype to present to another company,” said SAE member John Eureka, explaining the theme of the event.

The frame and layout of the car is drawn up in a program called SolidWorks. From there it gets built in the basement of the Science Building. Steel tubes are cut to length according to the drawings.

"We cut the ends out with a hole saw so they fit flush with the other tubes, and then weld them in place to make the frame," said Matt Niemi, a member of SAE.

Their main objective this semester and last semester was learning how to fabricate and weld their Baja frame completely from scratch.

“They’ve designed the frame, ordered the materials, and began the process of welding it after they spent a significant amount of time teaching themselves how to weld,” said Dr. Michael Adams, faculty adviser for SAE.

The car is a little more than 6 feet long, when it has it's tires in place it will be about 5 feet wide. The frame is 38 inches at its widest point. Sitting on the ground it will be about 4.5 to 5 feet tall.

"We would like to be finished with the car in April or May. We have two weeks after finals week for finishing touches and tuning," Niemi said.

The style of the car is an off-road, tube frame buggy with a rear engine, rear wheel drive and 10 inches of suspension travel. A 10 horsepower Briggs and Stratton single cylinder 4-stroke lawn mower engine will be the motor.

Membership with SAE isn't limited to just engineering majors. Students of any major can join as a member.

“If they want to learn we'll show them how to do it," said Jonny Lightfoot, vice president of SAE.

To sign up as a member visit sae.org.