Cleveland State University

University Advancement News

CSU Students Create Mini Machine to Drive Past Competition
Mini Machine

Deep in the bowels of the Science Building lives a creature that few know exist. Its roar is muffled, it enjoys slopping around in the mud and can scale the steps of the Physical Education Building, as well as jump through the air with the greatest of ease.

No, it’s not a hybrid pig-bear-kangaroo freak of nature, it’s a mini baja car and its owner is the Cleveland State University Chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

Each year, the group designs a new mini baja and travels to one of the national SAE Baja competitions to compete against more than 120 other colleges and Universities from around the globe. Travel is funded by corporate sponsorships, alumni and the University.

The mini baja cars are judged by a panel of engineering professionals on design and the cars also have to stand up to a rigorous four-hour continuous endurance race over dirt track and obstacle course, complete with jumps and moguls, that is constructed to destroy poorly constructed cars. The students take turns driving the car which can be dangerous but most of all fun.

The CSU SAE group is comprised of 30 students, most of them mechanical engineers but there’s also an art major and a business major in the ranks. Students do not have to be an engineering major to join – all are welcome.

There are more than 140 student groups and organizations like SAE on campus that range from academic oriented organizations like the physics and tax organizations to athletic and sports clubs such as rugby and ultimate frisbee.

Paul Vinci, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, thinks joining a student club should be required and credits the student SAE group with helping him find his way here at CSU last year.

“I felt as though I fit right in at Fenn College but when I started attending classes I did feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of the entire University,” said the Richmond Heights native. “I joined the SAE group, formed new friendships and was able to ask them questions that helped me find my way, and I haven’t looked back since.”

As an added benefit, CSU’s campus organizations and clubs make college fun and give you an excuse to stick around campus according to Michael Wyban, a senior and member of the SAE group. Since he joined SAE, Michael has found that he enjoys helping underclassmen with their studies and assisting professors with experiments and projects.

Whether it’s the SAE group or another club that sounds appealing because it will help with studies, meet new friends, or because it’s just plain fun – there’s no shortage of groups to choose from at CSU. If you are considering whether or not to join – in the immortal words of Nike advertisements – just do it!

Click here to see a video of the CSU baja car turn, jump and roll in last year’s SAE Baja competition. For more info on CSU’s chapter of SAE email

Click here to donate to this project.

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Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Avenue, UN 501
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
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1836 Euclid Avenue
Phone: 216.687.5522

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