Hyder-Burks Agriculture Pavilion will transform into an off-road vehicle race track, as Tennessee Tech hosts the 2013 Baja SAE collegiate design tournament, open to the public April 18-21.
Hundreds of Baja teams from all across the world will be competing by engineering and designing an off-road vehicle that will survive rough terrain including hills, woods and water.
“We want to make a car that’s light as we can for speed, but we also want to make it tough too so it can survive the competition,” Logan Atkins, co-captain of the team, said. “We build a brand new car every year. Some are made from scratch and some are based off old designs.”
The SAE competition’s purpose is to provide a challenging project for engineers across the world. The object of the competition is to introduce a new well-designed vehicle for commercial production and then promote that vehicle to a fake firm.
“The only requirements that are absolutely set in stone are that it has four wheels and you have to use the motor that is given to you,” Kendall Hall, co-captain of the team, said. “You decide everything else.”
Hall said the judging is based off of three areas throughout the competition: cost and design reports, dynamic events, and a four hour endurance race.
The judges look at cost reports which show how the team spends their money. They also look at design reports that show how well the team followed engineering practices and why they made the design decisions they made. The dynamic events are timed individual events for the vehicle. The dynamic events take place so the vehicle can be judged on acceleration, land maneuverability, sled-pull and suspension and traction. The endurance race is an off-road race to see how many laps the vehicle completes in four hours. Whoever has the most points out of the whole competition wins a cash prize.
“It’s unlike anything I have ever experienced,” Hall said. “It’s friendly competition. When you put so much time into something and see that it actually works, it’s the best feeling in the world. We have a really good car this year. We have done good with finding mistakes from past years. It’s chance and luck a lot of the time though.”
Hall also said that they work and talk with engineers that are from Honda, Polaris, and the Society of Automotive Engineers, to help build and judge their vehicles.
Tennessee Tech usually hosts the BAJA SAE events every four years. The team has been preparing their vehicle since last summer for the event.
“This is one of the most fun free things you can do on the weekend,” Hall said. “Tennessee Tech’s is one of the best spectator oriented Baja races I have ever been to.”
Tennessee Tech’s Baja SAE team has been designing vehicles and competing since 1977. They are one of the most decorated Baja SAE teams in the world.
For more information about the event, visit bajasaetennesseetech.com.