Rowan Society of Automotive Engineers will compete in international engineering design competition in Canada

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The Rowan University chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers will compete in the SAE Baja competition – an intercollegiate engineering design competition – on Feb. 14 and 15 at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.

The Rowan University chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers will compete in the SAE Baja competition – an intercollegiate engineering design competition – on Feb. 14 and 15 at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada. 

The Baja SAE competition, which originated at the University of South Carolina, began in 1976, and since then the competition has expanded to include numerous university teams from across the world, including Rowan University students who have participated in the event since 2003.

As part of the engineering design competition, undergraduate and graduate engineering students build one-person, off-road vehicles with the objective to “simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges,” according to the competition’s official rules and regulations.

The SAE Baja team, which comprises nine students, will compete with more than 100 other teams to have its design approved for manufacture by a fictitious firm.

According to the administrative regulations, “The students must function as a team to design, engineer, build, test, promote and compete with a vehicle within the limits of the rules. They must also generate financial support for their project and manage their educational priorities.”

A panel judges the projects based on a number of criteria, including design, cost, presentation, acceleration, hill climb or traction, land maneuverability, rock crawl, suspension and endurance.  After the individual criteria are evaluated, the judges critique the vehicles’ overall design and performance.

In 2013, the judges awarded the Rowan SAE team’s 50th place in the overall competition, second place in land maneuverability, 27th place in acceleration and 23rd in design.

“Last year, our issue was durability,” said Paul Robinson, the SAE vice president and a team member. “We had a fast and maneuverable car, but it wasn’t strong enough to last for hours on end. This year, we hope the make the car lighter and stronger, and we also designed it to keep it as fast and maneuverable as last year’s car.”

Robinson said the team has been constructing this year’s design since September and has included a number of new features.

“The rear suspension is the most unique aspect to our vehicle,” Robinson said. “The five-link rear suspension gives us more adjustability in our vehicle handling. For example, it allows for passive rear steering and sharper turns.”

The Rowan SAE Baja team includes Robinson, 21, of Marlboro, N.J.; Mario Desantis, 21, of Clinton, N.J.; Danielle Cristino, 21, of Mullica Hill, N.J.; Rohith Gowda, 22, of Princeton, N.J.; Matt Leoncini, 19, of Blairstown, N.J.; Jessica Snyder, 19, of Mt Laurel, N.J.; Kyle Peachey, 19, of Manchester, N.J.; Trevor Thayor, 20, of Washington Township, N.J.; and Carter Bagnell, 20, of West Deptford, N.J.

For many students, the Baja competition is a highlight of their Rowan experience.

Mechanical engineering freshman and SAE club member Max Bareiss, 18, of Andover, N.J., said he worked in many robotic competitions in high school, and when touring colleges, Rowan’s involvement with the Baja competition played a major role in his decision to attend Rowan.

“When looking at colleges, Baja was a big factor when deciding,” he said. “I didn’t see many other schools that compared.”

In May, the Rowan SAE team also will compete in another Baja competition in Pittsburg, Kan.

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